Away at College
Sitting around the breakfast table the next morning, Becky and I tried to figure out the next couple of days. “Well, finals will be done by the day after tomorrow, so we’ve got that of course…we really shouldn’t try to start doing any planning until after the tests are over.” Becky mused “And we still need to go back to Dr. Fawdan’s office to see about your incontinence issue…we need to do that sooner rather than later in case it turns out to be something serious.” “There’s a pleasant thought.” I sighed as I ate my breakfast. “I know.” Becky agreed “But it’s best to have things taken care of early before they get more involved.” Changing the subject, I suggested that “It might be a good idea to stay in and try to get some studying done today…do you have everything you need, or should we make a run back to campus before we settle in?” “I’ve already brought up all of my notes and textbooks, so I think we’re pretty well set on that front.” She explained, putting our breakfast dishes in the sink.
We spread out our stuff in the office pretty soon after we had eaten, luckily it was a big room and there was more than enough space with us occupying different corners. With everything that had occurred in the last few days I found it kind of hard to stay focused on my schoolwork. Looking over to where Becky was diligently studying on the other side of the room, I resolved that if she could manage to get things done for school, then so could I. Resolving to do something and actually making it happen are two quite different things, but after a while I did manage to focus a little better.
Becky and I settled in to a comfortable sort of routine over the next two or three days, going in to school for the day’s tests in the morning, then studying through the late afternoon and in to the evening, and finally snuggling up for a much deserved rest before getting up the next morning to do it all over again. Becky, I could tell, was having more than a little trouble keeping her mind on her schoolwork, and was obviously quite relieved the morning after the last day of finals. “Well, we made it.” I smiled as I padded in to the living room after sleeping in most of the morning, collapsing next to her on the sofa. “That we did.” She agreed “So now that the easy stuff is out of the way we can move on to the stressful and exhausting tasks!” “You’re not fooling anyone.” I grinned as I put my arm around her and rested my head on her shoulder “You’ve been looking forward to starting to plan things all week.” “Guilty.” Becky agreed, reaching over and picking up an old and somewhat battered notebook from the end table.
Seeing my curious expression, Becky started to explain in a rather embarrassed tone. “When I was a little girl my friends and I always liked to sit around and talk about what we wanted our life-bonding ceremonies to be like some day and…err…” “I thought it might be something like that.” I nodded, sparing her the embarrassment that I didn’t quite understand. Seeing her beginning to blush a little bit I couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s nothing to get worked up about…I think it’s kind of cute! I can just imagine you as a little kit sitting around in a circle with your friends, everyone diligently working on their own little notebook…” “Brat.” She grinned back, pushing me gently “I don’t tease you, do I?” “Well actually…” I began seriously before scooting over a bit to look over Becky’s shoulder at her scrapbook.
We sat in silence for a while, Becky looking through the notebook nostalgically as I looked on. The evolution showing throughout the pages was really fascinating: I could see through the handwriting and the tone of her notes the progress through the years as Becky grew up, evolving from the original slightly messy print in to the flowery script of her teenage years (at which point, I noticed, quite a few of the ‘i’s were dotted with hearts) and finally in to the neat penmanship which I recognized from her school notes. I was also a little bit amazed by the various little details that she would latch on to and obsess over: flowers, music, designs for the invitations…it quickly made it clear why sensible males choose to agree blindly with their future mates’ decisions. “I never knew how much I don’t know.” I laughed, shaking my head in bemusement “No wonder you’ve been planning for so long, a fur could die of exhaustion trying to figure all that out at once!” “I’m glad you appreciate that.” Becky nodded with mock seriousness “It will save me the time of impressing it upon you.”
“What do you want me to do?” I asked, becoming serious again for a moment “I’m not sure how much help I’ll be able to be with all that, it’s really a bit outside my field of expertise…” “Don’t worry,” Becky smiled back “All you have to do is pick out something to wear.” “I knew there would be a catch.” I sighed. “I guess I could give you some help with it if I have to.” Becky indulged. “Probably a good idea if you are expecting anything more difficult than jeans and a nice shirt.” I agreed. “Maybe we can go to the mall and look at some things later today…” “I wouldn’t object too loudly, I don’t have anything urgent to do today, so one thing is really as good as another.” “That’s settled then.” She agreed “I’ve got a few things to do in the office this morning, then in the afternoon we’ll go. Do you think you can keep out of trouble if I leave you unsupervised for a couple of hours?” “I can not in good faith promise any more than that I will make a good will effort in such direction.” I agreed solemnly. “That wasn’t what I was hoping for, but I guess I’ll take what I can get.” Becky agreed earnestly.
Despite what I had told Becky I quickly found myself growing bored after leaving her to her work in the office. I had pretty much dealt with all the little tasks that had piled up during finals, but there hadn’t been enough time since classes let out for me to grow bored enough to come up with any of my typical hopeless projects yet. Sighing a little bit, I resisted the urge to go see what Becky was up to…whatever it was she would probably finish up quicker if I didn’t distract her. “Not tired, and there’s nothing to do around here.” I groused to myself, wandering around the house aimlessly. Finally, for lack of anything better to do I went out and retrieved the usual pile of junk from the mailbox and began flipping through some of the random catalogs that always seem to show up. Rolling my eyes at the address label I stated firmly that “I have no idea who this ‘resident’ guy they keep sending mail to is, but I really wish he’d fill out one of those change of address cards at the post office…” None of Mr. Resident’s catalogs were particularly interesting, and it didn’t take me long to run out of attention span and wander off to find something else to do.
“Bored now…” I grumbled to myself. Short of going out and making trouble I really couldn’t think of anything to do. There was always the possibility of taking a nap, but it was early in the day and I really couldn’t convince myself that I was tired, and eventually I decided that while taking the microwave apart to see how it worked might be fun for a while I would probably not be able to get it back together again in a manner that resembled a functional condition. Feeling pretty dissatisfied with things I ended up pacing around in the hallway, randomly kicking the throw rug out of sheer contrariness. “Why is it that when I’m too busy to even make time for meals there is all sorts of things I want to do but as soon as I have some free time there is never anything fun to waste it on?”
I eventually ended up flopped on the couch in front of the television with some travel show on that I was only nominally paying attention to. Grabbing a pad of paper off the coffee table, I spent some time doodling and kind of wishing I had a box of crayons instead of just a pen. Every now and then when I had a page mostly filled up I’d crumple it up and toss it in the general direction of the trashcan and start in on a fresh piece. Listening for a minute, I could hear Becky in the next room over talking on the phone, but couldn’t quite make it out over the ceiling fan. “Stupid fan.” I sighed, crumpling up another piece of paper and flicking it into the blades. With a ‘thack’ the paper-ball got flipped into the corner of the room. Eyeing the fan thoughtfully I found myself crumpling up another sheet of paper…
By the time Becky had finished up her phone calls I had made a total mess out of the living room. Giggling to myself and studying the fan mischievously, I was preparing to make yet another attempt to bounce a wadded up piece of paper off the fan and in to a houseplant on the other side of the room when I was startled by a voice from the doorway, making my shot go wide of the mark. “What in the world have you been doing?” Becky sighed in exasperation, paws on her hips, as she looked over the paper-strewn room. “You made me miss!” I whined, turning around to stick my tongue out at the vixen. “A certain little boy had better start picking this up if he doesn’t want to find himself in time out!” she countered, watching me scramble to start cleaning things up for a minute before giving in, and with a sigh beginning to help. “I can’t leave you alone for a second, can I?” “Nope.” I agreed.
“As soon as we get this all picked up I was thinking we could head out to the mall.” Becky explained “Well, actually I was thinking we could go to the mall now, but you kind of temporarily derailed that plan…” “I got bored waiting for you.” I explained. “Next time maybe find something a little less messy to do.” Becky admonished, tousling my headfur affectionately “You could break things if you’re not careful.” “I’m sowwy.” I lisped contritely, looking glumly down at the carpet and shuffling my feet a little as I rounded up the last of the paper. Rolling her eyes at the ceiling, Becky just gave me a hug as she took me by the paw and led the way out to her car for the ride in to town.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to stopping by the food court and getting a snack…” I suggested to Becky as I followed her in to the mall “Food is good for eating you know.” “I get the impression you are subtly trying to tell me something.” She laughed, changing course so that we ended up in front of the pretzel stand “We can get something small if you promise to not complain too much about trying things on afterwards, okay?” “Done.” I agreed. As we sat down at one of the food court tables with a pretzel each and a soda to share, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit smug about getting the better part of the deal. “You look awfully happy with yourself.” Becky observed. “Well I get a snack for trying on a couple of things.” I explained “I think I did pretty well in our negotiations…” “Oh that’s what you think.” She grinned back evilly “Just you wait and see!” Looking down at my half eaten pretzel, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d still think it was worth it by the time we left. “I can’t back out of it now I guess.” I sighed glumly. “Aw, cheer up! It’ll be relatively painless, I promise.”
“Hi! I didn’t expect to run into you two kids here!” a voice hailed from across the food court as the cheetah it belonged to made his way over to our table and plopped down in one of the extra chairs. “Hey Rick! What are you up to?” Becky laughed. “A little of this, a little of that…” he shrugged airily “And you two?” “Nick needs something to wear to a bonding ceremony, and unfortunately there’s nothing in the little guy’s closet that can be worn in polite society.” “Somehow I’m not surprised…” Rick sighed, rolling his eyes “So who is the happy couple, anyone I know?” Seeing the absolutely irrepressible grins his question elicited, Rick looked confused for a moment, then his eyes widened in surprise as the realization dawned on him. “That’s great! Congratulations!” he exclaimed, nearly jumping over the table in his eagerness to hug the two of us. “Argh! Sore ribs! Sore ribs!” I yelped, squirming out of the impromptu group hug and backing up a safe distance from his enthusiasm. “Oh! Sorry, I forgot about that.” “So, would you like to come along and be a second opinion?” Becky asked, deciding it was a good time to change the subject, particularly since I was eyeing the silverware with evil intent while rubbing my sore spot. “Sure, why not.” Rick agreed as we threw out our trash and they led me back out into the mall.
After some wandering around we ended up in the sort of fancy boutique store that I would never set a paw in on my own. As was to be expected, I lost interest in the shopping pretty rapidly and found myself flopped down in a chair staring out the front display window into the mall while Becky and Rick pursued the various clothing options with a seriousness usually reserved for purchases requiring a capital investment. “Wonder if they’d notice if I wandered off for a while?” I grumbled to myself. “Yep, because it’s time to try things on!” Becky cajoled, having snuck up on me while I was busy staring off in to space. “Can’t we just pick one out and buy it?” I sighed “We really don’t need to overcomplicate things…”
‘Time to try things on’ could be much more accurately represented by ‘time to be a life sized doll for Becky and Rick to play dress up with’. After emerging from the dressing room for the third or fourth time I was beginning to grow a bit cranky, doing my best to sigh dramatically throughout the clothes discussion. “You’re not even trying to get the shirts tucked in nicely, are you?” Becky commented as I turned around to model the suit in question. “It’s sort of tricky…I can’t exactly bend as well as I should.” I explained patiently, trying in vain to re-tuck the back of the shirt a little more neatly. “Naw, you’re just tucking it in to your underwear…” Rick explained, standing up to try to give me a hand with things. “This stupid sore spot is going out of its way to make things difficult!” I growled in frustration. “Just hold still a second.” Rick instructed, pulling out my shirttail and tucking back in “There, got it!”
Sitting back down in the chair next to Becky, Rick mused that “That’s some really odd elastic on your boxers…” “What?” he asked curiously, seeing me jerk my head up in surprise and begin to blush. “Nick is just a little self conscious.” Becky explained, covering for me nicely. “A male eyeing your butt makes you a bit nervous?” Rick teased, before changing the topic, returning to subjecting me to continued shopping.
After significantly more time than I had ever spent shopping for clothes we finally picked out an outfit that everyone could live with (which was really kind of funny when I thought about it: they were my clothes, but I was the one least interested in picking them out) and after saying goodbye to Rick Becky and I headed back out to the car. “Since we’re in town anyway, why don’t we stop somewhere for dinner.” Becky suggested. “You’re the one driving.” I agreed congenially, reclining my seat back and curling up a little “As long as I don’t have to make a decision, it sounds great.” “Well, since that wasn’t exactly a ‘no’…” she agreed, rolling her eyes at me as we pulled out of the parking lot.
I really didn’t care where we ended up eating, but none the less found myself nodding in approval when Becky decided on one of the better steak places in town. The rumbling in my tummy, which earned itself a bit of an incredulous look, tended to agree with my initial assessment. “Hungrier than you thought you were?” Becky questioned. “I guess so…” I nodded as I stepped ahead slightly to get the front door for her “Shopping shouldn’t be allowed to grow rumblings that big.” “That’s why we’re going to feed it.” We were still too early for the dinner rush, so Becky and I got seated quickly and began to pursue the menu. In short order the waiter brought out a pair of very appetizing looking steaks, which briefly put an end to our conversation as we both launched in to our lunches.
“So, how has the planning been going?” I asked as I consciously slowed down my eating, trying to match Becky’s more…leisurely pace. Letting out a disgruntled sigh, Becky rolled her eyes at the ceiling. “Not nearly as well as I’d like.” She explained “It’s next to impossible to work around everyone’s schedules to figure out a place and time that will be okay for everyone.” “Well that’s no fun…” I nodded sympathetically “Seems kind of inconsiderate of them to make you work so hard at arranging things.” “That’s just the way it is I guess.” She sighed, a note of resignation entering her voice “The dictates of reality, I’m afraid.” “That’s one of the fundamental rules.” I agreed, spearing a piece of steak with my fork, then gesturing with it to emphasize my point “The more furs you involve in anything the longer it takes and the harder it becomes to get done. It’s an exponential rather than linear growth…” Becky couldn’t help but smile a little at that. “Normally I would argue with your tendency towards pessimism, but in this case I think you’re exactly correct.” “I know.” I nodded seriously, popping the bite of steak into my muzzle “But it’s still good to hear you say it!” “Brat.” She laughed, having already cheered up noticeably. “You know” I suggested more than half seriously “we could always elope, find some quiet, pretty place somewhere and have our ceremony with just the two of us. …and we could take a webcam with us and broadcast it so all your relatives could just log on and watch it that way!” “You wouldn’t mind?” Becky asked, looking thoughtfully at her plate. “If it will make you happy, not at all.” I shrugged. “I may hold you to that…”
After finishing lunch and a quick ride home, I found myself debating taking an afternoon nap before we had even made it through the front door. “If you want, hun.” Becky nodded cheerfully “Just make sure you hang up your new clothes neatly first so we won’t have to iron them later…I’ll be on the computer for a while anyway, and at least it will keep you out of trouble!” “I didn’t make that big a mess in the living room.” I sulked, earning an amused scratch behind my ears as I took my leave and went out to the bedroom. “It really wasn’t all that big…” I grumbled to myself as I dug around in the closet in search of a coat hanger “More of a slight disarray, if that…ah, here we go!” Finding a sturdy enough coat hanger, I neatly arranged my suit in the closet before stripping down to the (diapered) fur and burrowing under the sheets. To my annoyance, I found that now that I was actually trying to take a nap sleep had become more elusive than I had hoped. After more than a little bit of tossing and turning and squirming and burrowing, I finally managed to start drowsing off. (Or, more likely had worn myself out in the process…)
I really had no sense of how much time had passed during my little nap when I was partially awakened by a gentle poking. “…have to wake up if you don’t want to, but at least scoot over a bit, okay? You’re not the only one here who wants to get some sleep!” “Sorry.” I mumbled, poking my head out from under the sheets, to be mildly surprised to find it dark out. “You slept all afternoon little guy, it’s bedtime again.” “Oh.” I responded densely as Becky slipped under the covers. Snuggling up to her back and putting my arms around her, I lay my muzzle on her shoulder and quickly start drifting back to sleep. “I made our travel arrangements today, and did some last minute shopping.” Becky explained quietly “We’ll be ready to leave tomorrow afternoon!” “You sound happily decisive.” I yawned “That’s good, that’s an improvement over the more stressed out Mommy.” “It’s going to be a long day tomorrow, we should probably get some sleep…” “Yes mommy.”
Becky woke me up pretty early the next morning, or at least earlier than I had any preference for being awake, explaining that “You still need to get packed up and ready to go.” Yawning somewhat sleepily, I never the less climbed out of bed, grabbed a quick snack, and caught back up with Becky to help with the packing. Digging out the bigger of my two backpacks, I started piling a fairly random selection of clothes next to it on the bed. “Planning on traveling light I see.” Becky laughed from where she was doing quite a bit more deliberate job of packing on the other side of the room. “I’m a firm believer in the one-bag method of travel.” I explained. “After years of painstaking research, it was determined that the best ratio of trouble to functionality can be reached using a medium to semi-large bag. While it forces you to do without some of the more extraneous luxuries one might be tempted to travel with, the ability to sling your complete collection of personal property over your shoulders and comfortably hike with it for whatever distance presents itself more than compensates for any inconvenience which the lack of…oh…six pairs of shoes might cause.” “You’ve put quite a bit of thought in to that.” Becky grinned, a bit impressed despite herself. “I call it my ‘minimalist theory of luggage’, and yes, I did.”
After fitting in my clothes, a small collection of my ‘little kit’ things, and the other necessary random bits and pieces, I added in my fox plushie, zipping the backpack up with his head poking merrily out the top. “He needs to see where he’s going or else he’ll get all bratty.” I explained to Becky. Sitting down on the bed cross-legged to watch her finish packing, something occurred to me. “I get to drive for some of the trip, right?” “Drive?” Becky asked, looking at me oddly. “You know: steering wheel, gas pedal, that sort of thing…aw crud, we’re not flying are we?” “Yeah. What gave you the impression…” she explained, looking rather mystified. “No fair.” I glared “I hate flying. I can’t even begin to explain how much I hate flying. Words do not exist to describe my utter loathing of air travel!” “What’s so bad about flying?” Becky questioned patiently. “I’m scared of heights.” I began “I don’t like being cramped up in the tiny little seats. Taking off and landing makes my tummy mad…” Interrupting me gently, Becky found her way straight to the heart of the matter “It’s the heights issue, isn’t it?” “Uh huh.” I nodded, looking a little embarrassed “Heights are scary.” “It will be okay.” She assured me “We’ll get through it, and have a great time, I promise.” “Okay.” I conceded “But only for you.”
The revelation of our upcoming travel arrangements put me in a bit of a pensive mood throughout the cab ride to the airport. (Neither of us felt it was a good idea to leave one of the cars in the airport lot.) Joining the bustling chaos, we eventually found our way to the right gate and settled in to wait for the plane to begin loading. “You’re really getting all worked up about nothing.” Becky sighed, seeing my continued nervousness. “Our species wasn’t meant to fly or we would have been born with wings and much smaller brains.” I grumbled, picking fitfully at the patch of white fur at the end of my tail. “I was going to wait until we were actually on the plane,” Becky sighed, digging around in her purse “but now will work too I guess…” Finding what she was looking for, Becky handed me a little box. “I thought it might give you something to do besides worry.” She explained as I tore in to it to reveal one of those nifty little media players. “Spiffy!” I grinned, looking it over “But you do know these things work a lot better when one loads things on to them.” “Smart aleck.” She grumbled, rolling her eyes “If you examine it a bit closer, I’m sure you’ll notice that I took the liberty of putting some things on there for you.” “Aww…” I laughed “You thought of everything, didn’t you? Hmm…I hope you got a headphone splitter so you can use it too?” “But of course.” She nodded, starting to explain before being interrupted by a fur on the loudspeaker announcing that the flight would begin boarding.
“Damn.” I sighed, taking Becky’s paw and joining the line to get on the plane “I was kind of hoping they’d forget about it if we sat here long enough.” “No such luck.” She laughed, presenting the gate attendant with our tickets and hustling me up the ramp and on to the plane. Finding our seats, Becky explained to me that “Since it’s kind of a special trip I decided to splurge a bit and go with the first-class tickets. I thought you would appreciate the extra space and us having the entire row.” “That I do.” I agreed as we stowed our stuff in the overhead and settled down in our (rather large) seats. As I looked around a bit I had to admit that things didn’t seem too bad: the seats were pretty comfortable and not too cramped, and there were quite a few buttons to play with on the seat adjustment panel. “I know what you’re thinking…” Becky reproached, noticing me eyeing the controls “Those aren’t a toy.” “Aww…” I sighed, reluctantly turning my attention away from the panel.
I’d just begun to settle in when the plane began to taxi out to the runway in preparation for takeoff. “Here comes the not so fun part…” I sighed, gripping the armrests as I felt the plane begin to accelerate. Before I knew it, the front end was lifting up, and we started to get airborne. Closing my eyes and whimpering a little bit, I did my best to think of other things and keep my breakfast in my tummy. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the plane leveled out and we were on our way. “Um, Nick? Maybe you could try to relax a little.” Becky suggested “You’re clawing a hole in the armrest…” Looking down, I was surprised to notice that I had been subconsciously clutching desperately to the armrests to the point where there was actually a line of little dents in the plastic from my claws. “Oops.” I agreed mildly “You’re probably right about that.” Making a conscious effort, I disengaged from my death grip, then absent mindedly began drumming my fingers on my knees. “Maybe we could take a look at your media player.” Becky suggested, deciding it would be a good idea to try to distract me from my various nervous behaviors before I began to get on the nerves of the other furs on the plane. “Oh yeah!” I agreed with enthusiasm “I’d completely forgotten about that!” “Glad to see it made such a big impression.” She joked as I dug it out and set up the headphone adapters before giving it a try.
After I’d figured out how to pull up the file index on my new gizmo, I discovered that Becky had, among other things, stocked it with a selection of the kids’ movies from my DVD collection. Giggling a bit despite myself, I quickly launched in to Disney’s version of Robin Hood. Humoring me, Becky helped herself to the other pair of headphones, and before too long I was completely engrossed in the movie, my concerns about being on the plane completely forgotten. The small screens they use on the media players had the nice side effect of forcing the users in to pretty close proximity with each other, the end result being me snuggled up against her shoulder, and quite content with the arrangement. Becky didn’t seem to mind, though I got the impression she wasn’t paying all that much attention to the movie in the first place. I began to idly wonder if she was paying attention to something in particular, or just staring off in to space. Gradually it sort of turned in to a game of sorts for me, trying to covertly study what it was that Becky might be paying attention to, until by the end of the movie I wasn’t really watching it either. Things finally ended (quite a while after the movie had) when the flight attendant, a rather self-assured looking equine (self-assurance, I supposed, came along with handling the myriad of tasks and problems a flight attendant faces on a daily basis…), came along with the snack cart.
As I looked over the offerings on the cart, I noticed a little baggie full of little plastic pilot’s wings. “I’ll have a bag of pretzels.” I decided “Oh, and could I have one of those pins too?” “Sure.” She laughed, handing over my snack before digging out one of the pins. “Thanks.” I nodded, immediately losing interest in the food as I messed around getting my pilot’s wings pinned onto my shirt, then sporadically interrupting my snack to pick at them and make sure they were straight. “You know,” Becky laughed after watching me for a while “If I had known that was all it would take to keep you entertained on the flight I wouldn’t have spent all that money on your little player.” “Oh come on, how can you not like the little plastic wings?” I questioned “They’re just unreasonably nifty. And besides, now that I have captain’s wings they’ll have to let me fly the plane.” “Somehow I think you’ve misinterpreted things a bit…” she explained, rolling her eyes. “Nope, I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.” I disagreed seriously “I have wings, so I can fly it if I want.”
One of the problems with traveling is that until somefur invents a matter transporter like in the sci-fi movies it still takes time to get from point A to point B, and a set of plastic wings can only amuse a guy for so long. Eventually I just gave up entirely on trying to pretend to be a mature and sophisticated adult. I may not be able to get out of being bored and stressed out, but nowhere does it say I have to be awake damn it! Having made the command decision that the best way to pass the flight was to sleep through it, I lost no time in the implementation of my new strategy. Rooting through my carryon bag I dug out my plush fox Rufus before returning it to the overhead bin. “Wish I had brought a pillow too…” I complained mildly as I draped my coat over myself and endeavored to find the most comfortable position for my nap. “I’ll bet the flight attendant would be more than happy to bring you one.” Becky suggested, looking over the top of the book she had begun to read. “True,” I nodded as I snuggled back up against her “But theirs are always crinkly for some reason… Besides, I’m pretty comfortable as it is, and I don’t want to bother the attendant without a good reason.” “Whatever you think is best.” Becky nodded seriously as she returned to her book.
After burrowing around in the seat for a little while, I settled comfortably in to my impromptu nest, tucking my coat up over me and putting my headphones back on. Going through the list of songs on my little player, I was soon listening to a soothing, meditative track that must have been one of Becky’s, and beginning to drowse off comfortably. Becky’s shoulder made a much better pillow than they would have brought me anyway, and between her and Rufus I was not running low on soft and fuzzy for the moment. In spite of my many and varied complaints about our travel arrangements, I quickly drifted off in to a deep and undisturbed sleep.
“I really hope that you two are together…” laughed a ferret lady in a very expensive business suit across the isle from Becky “Otherwise I’d tend to think it would make for this being a very awkward flight for you!” “Nope, he’s mine.” Becky grinned back “He really isn’t much of a bother, Nick grows on furs pretty quickly…” “Don’t I know it.” The ferret sighed, rolling her eyes “I have one of my own back home. I can’t leave him unsupervised for a minute either. I just hope he hasn’t decided to remodel the house or something while I’m gone.” “Well, luckily Nick isn’t quite that impulsive…at least most of the time. He’s got a tendency to get just a little bit…enthusiastic…if you let him combine tools and machines in the same activity.” “It could be a lot worse.” She shrugged “He looks pretty harmless sleeping there.” “Grblgh… Damn exploding mushrooms.” I mumbled in my sleep, shifting around a bit in my sleep. “The funny thing is that one day you’ll realize that you’ve got a pretty good idea what he’s dreaming about.”
Thankfully I managed to sleep through the rest of the flight, eventually being awakened by Becky gently prodding me. “You’ve got to sit back up, we’re about to land.” She explained in response to me giving her looks intended to induce a guilt trip for waking me up. “Great.” I sighed unhappily as I complied with her instructions. “What’s the matter? I would have thought you would be happy the flight is almost over…” she questioned “Your tummy isn’t acting up again, is it?” “Nope, it’s just that I’m still a little unclear about at what point during the landing attempt they’ve precluded it turning in to a crash…” I joked nervously. “Well, I’m guessing it’s technically at the point where the plane is sitting on the ground.” Becky laughed, giving my paw a reassuring squeeze as she tried to lighten the mood a bit. “Sitting on the ground and not moving.” I corrected. “If the wheels are rolling then there is still the possibility of hitting a pothole or bottle or something, rolling over, bursting in to flames, and dooming us all!” “That scenario seems just a little bit unlikely.” Becky sighed, rolling her eyes at my stubborn insistence on pessimism. “You say that now…” I disagreed, sticking out my tongue at her “But you’ll look pretty silly when I’m right!” “I do believe that’s a risk I’m willing to take…” Becky explained patiently, patting my paw as we began our decent.
Either the added stress of landing, the shift in cabin pressure, or some combination of the two began to rapidly conspire against my already unhappy tummy so that by the time the plane was on the runway pulling in to the terminal I was feeling very thoroughly sick. Somewhat preoccupied with rounding up our backpacks, it took Becky a while to notice my plight. “Are you okay? You don’t look so well…” she asked as we shuffled towards the exit among the flight’s other passengers. “I don’t feel too good.” I mumbled “Trying to decide if I want to curl up and die quietly or try to bite the pilot before I go.” Picking up the pace after we passed the bottleneck at the plane’s door, I scanned the terminal with growing urgency before sighting my immediate and overriding goal. “I need to use the boys’ room!” I threw over my shoulder in the general direction of where Becky was following behind me.
Ducking into the place in question, I made my way through the small crowd milling around inside, only barely arriving at an empty stall before becoming violently ill. After quite a while leaning against the stall door while my tummy decided if it was done rejecting my breakfast or only taking an intermission between acts, I eventually decided to try my luck again with the world outside my temporary sanctuary. I paused at the sinks before leaving the bathroom, to splash some water on my face and rinse out my muzzle in the hopes of making myself at least a little presentable again. Becky was sitting on one of a row of benches across from the bathrooms, waiting for me with a worried expression on her muzzle. Slumping down next to her on the bench, I gratefully let her put a comforting arm around my shoulders as I stared down at the ground waiting for everything to finish settling back down. “Feeling any better?” she asked gently. “A little bit.” I nodded, cradling my head in my paws “Let me just sit for a minute before we go, okay?”
“Of course.” She agreed gently “We’re not going anywhere that won’t be there waiting for us…” I did my best to level out my breathing a bit while absentmindedly watching my paws shake a little, until they both had gotten back towards normal. Despite things seeming to have settled down, I decided that it would probably be a good idea to sit for a bit longer. “Feeling any better?” Becky asked, squeezing my paw. “A little.” I nodded “But I was thinking we might stay here a little bit longer…I really don’t want to get sick on you again.” “Whatever you need to do.” She nodded patiently as I snuggled in to her shoulder. “Hell of a way to start our trip…” I sighed “You’re not mad, are you?” “Why would I be mad?” “Well, this isn’t exactly how you imagined things going, is it?” “No.” Becky shrugged “But it can’t be helped, so worrying about it isn’t going to accomplish anything.” “I guess you’re right.” I agreed before hesitantly standing up. “It’s probably safe to give moving a try again…”
There’s a great deal of difference between ‘safe’ and ‘pleasant’, and today things seemed to be leaning towards the less fun of the two options. By the time I felt like going would be anything but a horrible idea we had been occupying that bench for the better part of an hour and the airport security guys were giving us looks like they were getting concerned I would keel over dead and force them in to doing some unscheduled paperwork. Admittedly that left me feeling a bit unloved, but I could see things from their perspective, which made it hard to begrudge them their concern. One good thing about us having waited quite a while was that the luggage at the baggage claim carousel had been thinned out considerably, so in no time we had retrieved our stuff and hiked over to the car rental place. I was more than happy to let Becky handle the rental details and we were soon on our way in an ugly little grey compact car.
“You must be feeling better.” Becky grinned “I notice you managed to turn up your muzzle pretty energetically when the rental guy brought the car around…” Reclining my seat back, I curled up facing towards her while fidgeting with the seatbelt. (They aren’t exactly designed for someone to lie down comfortably with them on—try it sometime and you’ll see what I mean.) “I don’t exactly feel great, but I couldn’t let this insult to the automotive gods go unanswered. Stupid heathen rental fur…” I explained seriously “He shall be struck down at a later date, just you watch!” Reaching over to tousle my headfur Becky couldn’t help but laugh at that. “I won’t argue with your convictions on that one.” “That’s right!” I declared “Don’t even think of prosecuting my religious beliefs!” “I think you mean ‘persecute’ honey…” “That too” I agreed generously as Becky pulled out on to the highway.
As the last remnants of my bout of air sickness faded I began to watch the scenery outside with a bit more interest. I had to admit that Becky had picked a really beautiful place for us to visit. We were well up in the mountains, but still below the snow line, so everything was colored in vibrant shades of dark greens, interspersed with the browns, oranges and reds of fall where maples and birches were scattered in amongst the evergreen trees. Not usually one to object to a good car trip, I still found myself kind of wishing that we would hurry up and get there so I could spend some time wandering around outside. Watching Becky as she drove, I got the impression that she was having similar feelings. She kept trying to split her attention between looking at the scenery and watching the road. “I could drive for a bit if you would like…” I offered, breaking the comfortable silence. “I’m not going to allow you to operate a multi-ton piece of equipment until I’m sure that you’re completely over whatever it is that was making you feel icky earlier.” Becky chided “Besides, we’re almost there anyway. Just sit tight for a little while longer, okay little guy?” “If I must.” I sighed, accepting her decision. It really wasn’t a big deal, and I wasn’t about to make an issue of it.
After about a half hour of driving on progressively smaller roads, we eventually pulled in to a long driveway and I looked approvingly at the place Becky had chosen for us to stay at. Rather than just a standard hotel she had found one that rented out individual cabins, each of which was set off in the woods away from the others, providing plenty seclusion and privacy for their occupants. At the bottom of the gently sloping hill that the facility was built on the woods eventually thinned out and gave way to a spectacularly blue lake. “I kind of thought you would like it here.” Becky nodded approvingly at the eager gleam in my eyes “And the really great thing is that this is mainly a summer resort…since it’s the off season we have the whole place to ourselves. No breakfasts in the morning, but all the privacy and quiet we could possibly want!” “How do we get in if nobody is here?” I questioned, seeing a small flaw in her plans. “Oh, the couple who act as caretakers for a lot of the resorts up here left a key for us.” She explained. “Well sure, if you insist on not finding anything negative about it.” I grinned as Becky got out at the main building to retrieve the keys. I had to admit that she had found a rather agreeable little hideaway for us: I’ve always been fond of spending time up in the mountains, and it’s hard to find anywhere more peaceful than a cabin miles out from the nearest other furs.
“Caught you smiling!” Becky laughed, having returned with the cabin key while I was still deeply lost in my own thoughts. “Guilty.” I agreed, more interested at the moment in looking around than being a brat. Pulling the car around, Becky drove us a short way up a side path to the cabin where we would be staying. It was a cozy enough looking little place with a sharply peaked roof and decoratively cut gables reminiscent of some of the old lodges built back when designs were unique and labor was cheap. “Maybe we should just move in here permanently…” I mused “I wonder how big a pipe we can get from the local ISP…” “I’m not sure how well that would work out…do you really want to live somewhere without a garage?” Becky pointed out logically. “You’re right I guess.” I sighed as we grabbed our luggage and went inside. It didn’t take long for us to get settled in since it mostly consisted of throwing our luggage in the bedroom and opening a few curtains. “In light of the fact that we had to get up pretty early this morning and all the fun you had on the flight up here, I think it would be best for you to take an afternoon nap before we do any exploring.” Becky decided, shooing me into the bedroom. “What about you?” I grumbled halfheartedly as I stripped and flopped down on the bed. “It wouldn’t hurt for me to get a bit of rest too.” She nodded, joining me on the bed, albeit in a far more dignified manner.
Yawning a little bit, I snuggled up against her. “So, what’s the plan then?” “Well,” Becky explained “We’re not going to do anything until tomorrow, that much is certain. Just naptime, then maybe watch some TV or sit around on the porch for a while. Then tomorrow is going to be the big day, of course. There’s going to be someone here to perform the ceremony for us in the afternoon, then I thought we could drive in to town and find somewhere nice for dinner.” “There’s a town?” I asked curiously “I must have been more out of it than I thought on the way here, I don’t remember us driving through one at all…” “We didn’t.” she explained patiently “It’s a bit further down the road.” “Ah. Well it’s good to know I’m not going nuts then.” I joked. “What do you mean ‘going’? You’ve been nuts the entire time I’ve known you!” I just rolled my eyes at that, doing my best not to grin as I feigned a mildly offended disinterest. “Well, I thought it was at least worth a giggle.” Becky sighed. “If you insist.” I conceded generously.
As happens quite often I discovered after a while that while I was tired I really wasn’t particularly sleepy, a problem which anyfur that has experienced will agree is both absurd and highly annoying. I really didn’t want to shift around too much trying to settle in: Becky had quieted down a while ago, which I could only assume was because she had drifted off to a sleep of one sort or another. (Curled up against her back as I was made it a bit difficult to tell for sure without disturbing her, which would kind of eliminate the point in the first place…) The irony of our situation didn’t escape me: it was supposed to be my naptime, but the only one who seemed to be asleep was Becky… And thinking about it a bit, I eventually reached the conclusion that irony didn’t make the situation any less annoying. Then, for lack of anything better to do I started a sort of mental exercise trying to disprove that theory, which, before I knew it, had put me soundly to sleep.
When I finally woke up quite a while later it had grown dark out. Becky, however, turned out to still be asleep, which was probably good, I reasoned. I wasn’t the only one that my airsickness had affected, and nobody will really enjoy a trip when they’re tired and stressed. Extracting myself as gingerly as I could, I snuck out of the room to shut everything down for the night. As an afterthought I checked Becky’s phone, which turned out to have quite a few missed calls from an assortment of relatives. News travels fast, which wasn’t surprising considering how excited her mom had been when we made our big announcement to her family the other day. I really doubted that there was anything urgent enough to require attention before the morning (or afternoon, or end of our trip for that matter) so I just hooked the thing back up to its charger. I had never been a big fan of the cellular phone for so very many different reasons, and briefly toyed with the notion of ‘accidentally’ dropping it in the sink. While it would have been quite satisfying in a petty sort of way, I really didn’t want to spend our trip in timeout when Becky eventually noticed so I wrote it off as a bad idea in the long run.
I knew full well I was just wasting time trying to find something to do besides going back to sleep, but I really couldn’t help myself. I guess it was just my latent stubborn streak overriding practicality… Eventually though I had to give up and admit to myself that bedtime was bedtime. Becky was still sound asleep when I found my way back to the bedroom and quietly crawled under the covers to join her. The problem with waiting around for monumentally life-changing events is that waiting mixes the least attractive bits of boredom and horrible, gut-wrenching stress. Largely, I think, because the universe has a really sick sense of humor, which I realistically didn’t expect to change on my account. Finally, after quite a while of this, I threw in the metaphorical towel and went to root around in my overnight bag until I dug up a package of sleeping pills I’d bought a few semesters back when I had been stressed out by a particularly difficult (not to mention boring) class I had taken. A few minutes later, to my great satisfaction, I found myself yawning enthusiastically, and finally drifted off to a much belated rest.
“Up and at ‘em my soon to be mate!” Becky laughed cheerfully as she persistently tried to drag me out of bed by the tail. “Morning already?” I questioned blearily as I found my way out of bed. “Morning was actually quite a while ago.” She explained, waving an empty pill blister pack at me accusingly. “I wouldn’t have been able to get you up any earlier anyway, so I went ahead and let you sleep until the priestess was here for the ceremony.” “Crud, she isn’t waiting on me, is she?” I groaned, doing my best to get dressed as quickly as possible. “No, not yet.” Becky sighed, helping me as best she could “We’ve got enough time to get ready, but no dragging your paws!” When she was sure that I was actually up and moving, Becky went off to get us a quick almost-breakfast. “Oh, and if you ever do that again you’re going to get a spanking.” She said seriously from the doorway, flicking the empty pill bottle in to the trash can. “I can’t even begin to explain how bad for you these things can be. Do I make myself clear?” “Yes mommy.” I agreed. “Well, then that’s enough about that.” Becky nodded before disappearing back in to the other room. Left to my own devices, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, thinking carefully about anything I might be forgetting before assuring myself that yes, I had in fact gotten everything together properly.
Finding my way out to the kitchen, I joined Becky for a quick bowl of oatmeal. We were pushing it a little bit on time, but since everything always seems to work better with a full tummy we mutually agreed that a few minutes for food would be time well spent. “Food is good for eating.” I declared seriously as we finished up. “That it is.” Becky agreed as she took my paw and led the way down to the lake. It was shaping up to be a really nice day, there wasn’t a trace of clouds in the sky and a gentle breeze was blowing in off the water, bringing with it the distinctive, crisp smell of the lake. We arrived at a stone overlook jutting out in to the water where we were met by a very dignified looking older wolf. “We haven’t kept you waiting long have we?” I asked with concern. Besides being rude, it couldn’t possibly be good luck to annoy the priestess who was going to perform one’s bonding ceremony. “Not at all.” She assured us “And anyway it’s quite nice here.” Giving Becky a relieved look I relaxed a bit at that. She and the older female made small talk for a while, eventually giving me the impression that they were at least passing acquaintances prior to today, which for some reason I found oddly strange. I’ve a tendency to get even more flighty than usual when I’m feeling stressed, a nervous tic of sorts I guess, and as Becky and the priestess talked I found myself easily distracted by my surroundings, and eventually ended up quite happily playing with a dragonfly, quite content to let the grownups have their conversation. The glittering green bug would land on my paw then take off again as soon as I moved, only to circle a few times and land again. (I guess it had an attention span of similar length to mine.) Noticing that the conversation had stopped after a time, I looked up to find both Becky and the priestess staring down at me with amused expressions. “Shall we get started then?” the wolf suggested.
I’ll be the first to admit that old traditions and ceremonies always seem so corny and trite on TV and in the movies, and I’ve never shied away from an opportunity to mock them in the past, but when it’s your turn, when you are standing there with the fur you want to spend the rest of your life with, making promises and declaring your love to the whole world…well then you’ll come to realize how traditions have lasted long enough for you to have the opportunity to uphold them. And after that wonderful, special, perfect afternoon I’m not sure I’ll have the urge to make fun of them again regardless of how bad the sitcom or predictable the movie. What was really only an hour or two seemed an eternity, but soon enough the priestess was taking her leave declaring that “I’m sure you’ve some idea on how to occupy yourselves for the rest of the day!” causing me to blush deeply through my fur. She and Becky found that hilarious, laughing good naturedly at my discomfort. Their good mood turned out to be infectious, and I couldn’t help but laugh myself as we walked her back to her car. “Diseases and laughter both spread through close contact you know.” Becky giggled, tapping me on the end of my muzzle. “You two are really good together…” The priestess observed as she was getting in to her car “I do believe this is the start of something wonderful…”
Becky and I found ourselves discussing how to spend the first hours of our bonded life as we walked back to the cabin. “I’d really like to do some hiking while we’re up here.” I explained “The weather is so nice right now, it would be a shame to spend the whole time we’re here inside…” “Well, I’m up for it if you are.” Becky agreed “But you still have to try to take things easy. Just because you’re not falling over dead right now doesn’t mean you’re better.” “I was life bonded to a walking manifestation of better judgment.” I kidded, giving her a hug. “Yep.” Becky agreed “Now you’re officially my problem, so you don’t get to be uncooperative any more, got it?” “When have I ever been uncooperative?” I queried as we stepped up on the porch. “Do you really want me to spend all morning listing them?” she laughed, reaching for the doorknob. “Wait!” I interrupted urgently stopping Becky before she entered the cabin. “Huh? Oh!” she exclaimed as I leant forward and swept her off her paws, carrying her over the threshold in what I hoped was a suave and debonair manner. Laughing, Becky did her best to look annoyed with me. “What was that all about? You could hurt yourself again!” “There are traditions to be upheld.” I defended patiently, setting her back on her paws and doing my best not to give her the vindication of seeing that ‘could’ was actually ‘did’.
While I did my best not to do anything I might regret later Becky bustled around getting a backpack together in preparation for us taking a stroll. The nice thing about having a really short attention span is that it’s usually quite easy for me to find something to do to amuse myself: by the time Becky was ready to go I was happily occupied taking apart the dishwasher. “Umm…What are you doing?” she asked dubiously, carefully avoiding stepping on any of the bits and pieces strewn across the kitchen floor. “Truthfully, I’m not sure.” I sighed “I started wondering how these things worked, and…well…” “So you…” “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” “We’re going to have to put together some rules about what’s fair game for dissection, aren’t we?” “In my defense, I almost always get things put back together eventually…” I sighed. It’s kind of hard to explain randomness, and on occasion it’s better to shut up before one digs their hole deeper. “We can talk about it later.” Becky laughed, seeing my expression “Walk first, okay?”
A short bit of time later found Becky and I having made pretty good progress wandering nowhere more specific than ‘up’. Becky had been leading us at a fairly brisk pace, and the way our day had been going neither of us were particularly concerned with where we would end up. Despite it being the middle of winter, the sun was out and by late morning it had warmed up nicely, making me glad I hadn’t brought a coat along. “Thinking deep thoughts, sexyfur?” Becky questioned cheerfully, having noticed I’d become more quiet than usual. “Of course.” I nodded, hurrying to catch up with her. “It occurred to me that it might not be a bad idea to hide out here until all the familial excitement wears off.” “Plus we wouldn’t have to get on an airplane for the trip back.” She nodded, showing an uncanny ability to find the point in my ramblings.
“That would be an added benefit, yes.” I agreed. “Did you ever read that series of kit’s books, ‘The Boxcar Pups’? We could give that a shot…find an old train car and turn it into a nice little cabin out in the woods, start a little garden, maybe find a cave to explore or something…” “How would you check your email?” Becky questioned indulgently. “Carrier pigeon.” I explained seriously “Or possibly smoke signals, I’ve not gotten that part completely worked out yet…” “I’m pretty sure the ISP out here is a little bit more current than that…” She laughed “Traditionally they tend to phase out smoke signals when broadband comes in to an area.” “Well then I’ll be forced to mark them down a few points on the customer service survey.”
Glancing at her watch, Becky declared that “It’s pretty much lunchtime, and I guess here is as good as anywhere else to stop for a bit.” Off to the side of the almost-path we had been following was a shady little clearing that beckoned invitingly. Dropping her pack, Becky began laying out the food while I unfolded the picnic blanket and otherwise tried to make myself useful, or at least stay out from under paw. In short order everything was set up and Becky and I settled down to eat. Food always seems to command my undivided attention, and I dove in with my customary enthusiasm, while Becky was more sedate with her meal. Consequently, I was done well before she was and settled in comfortably on our picnic blanket. Our clearing was on the edge of the wood-line leading in to a nice little valley between a pair of smallish hills in the mountain range. A stream drifted lazily through the middle of the field, probably fed by early meltwaters caused by the last couple of unseasonably nice afternoons we had been enjoying. “This is why I travel.” I mused, watching the wind make ripples in the tall grass spreading across the field. “Hmm?” Becky questioned, glancing up from her sandwich. “All this.” I gestured expansively. “There’s a different sort of pretty wherever you go, and getting to appreciate something new almost makes up for the many and varied miseries you have to go through to get there.” “Yep.” She agreed, reaching over to skritch between my ears before resuming her lunch.
“I was traveling out west a while back, and I had stopped to stretch my legs a bit around the time when the sun was going down. There I was in the middle of an absolutely desolate stretch of desert with nothing but rocks and whatever scrub of a plant that hadn’t yet given up on trying to eek an existence out of the parched, sandy dirt, when the last little bits of daylight painted everything in hues of red and purple before slipping off for the night. And I couldn’t help but think to myself that ‘you know, that was a really neat thing to have seen’.” “Hopeless romantic.” Becky accused, having finished her sandwich and showing no inclination to continue on our walk. “Guilty.” I agreed with a laugh. Becky scooted over to lean up against the tree, and with some minor shuffling around I found myself resting my head in her lap while she absentmindedly played with my headfur. “In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll have to admit that when I had to change a flat tire in the middle of the afternoon the next day I spent a good bit of time describing it as ‘a sandy, festering pit suitable only for vultures, snakes, and those too stupid to find their way out’.” “See, I love how you always have such an upbeat attitude about everything!” Becky joked “It’s really a refreshing change from all the pessimism and negativity that I see around school.” “Well, not everyfur can have my near-divine sense of serenity…” I agreed piously. We lapsed into a comfortable silence after that, which neither of us felt particularly inclined to break. It’s a special sort of friendship that requires nothing but to be together, and as much as I thought about it I couldn’t remember a time when I had felt more contented than I did sitting there with Becky just watching the wind in the grass.
After less time than I would have liked, Becky sighed. “I was planning on going in to town for a while later, so, much as I don’t particularly want to at the moment, we should probably get you changed and head back to the cabin.” “If we must…wait, changed?” “Uh huh. If you hike all the way back when you’re wet you’re going to end up with some less than fun chafing.” Becky explained, patient as always. “No, I mean, when did I get wet?” I asked in confusion, shaking my head. “I don’t know exactly.” Becky shrugged, tapping her nose “But I smell a wet little kit, and you’re the only one around here!” Doing my best not to let my frustration get to me, I just took a deep breath and nodded. “Taking in to consideration that you were wearing them by choice well before they became a necessity, I think maybe you’re being a bit grumpier than strictly necessary.” Becky observed as she set about finding the necessary supplies amongst the stuff in her backpack. “Things would be a lot less stressful for you if you’d just try to relax and enjoy yourself…” “You’re probably right.” I agreed, grudgingly. “I’m always right.” She corrected patiently “Now let’s see about getting you changed, okay?”
I was just beginning to voice my displeasure at the idea of getting changed outside in the middle of things, but thought better of it. There really wasn’t any ‘things’ to be in the middle of…the nearest other furs were probably a good couple of miles away from where we were. Still, I couldn’t help but blush as Becky removed my pants and the old and rather soaked diaper and began cleaning off my neither regions. Feeling exposed and a little bit naughty, I pointedly fought down the urge to glance around looking for the furs I knew perfectly well were not watching me from out in the woods, instead watching the clouds drift by as Becky dug a fresh diaper out of her backpack. “Here we are! Lift up, okay?” she declared cheerfully as she slipped it under me. A picnic blanket in the woods isn’t the most convenient place to change someone, and it ended up taking Becky more than one try to get my tail threaded through the back properly, but eventually everything was situated. Sprinkling on a good layer of baby powder, Becky folded up the front of the diaper and snugly fastened the tapes. “There we are, all…Oh! Umm…hello.” She exclaimed in surprise, looking at something over my shoulder. “Errp! Wha?” I squeaked, scrambling to cover myself with the picnic blanket, while at the same time glancing around frantically. Not finding any prying eyes watching us, I turned back to find Becky grinning broadly at me. “I’m sorry, I know it was mean, but I couldn’t resist.” She giggled “You should have seen the expression on your muzzle!” Glaring at her, I crossed my arms over my chest and pouted furiously. “Oh come on Nick, don’t be mad, okay? Besides, you have to admit it was at least a little funny…” Sighing, I put on my best ‘irked, but not actually mad’ look, batting away the end of her tail from where it was trying to tickle me behind the ears. “The joke’s on you, now I need changed again!”
That evening Becky and I went in to town to poke around the shops a bit. I’ve never been big on the whole ‘shopping for the sake of shopping’ thing, but it was a nice little town and Becky was enjoying herself, so I didn’t have any real complaints. We started on one end of the main street area and systematically worked our way down to the other end, with Becky leading the way in and out of whichever shops struck her fancy along the way. I couldn’t hazard a guess as to the etiquette of buying souvenirs for friends and family not fortunate enough to go on one’s vacation, but it was apparent that Becky fell firmly into the ‘buy things for everyone’ camp on the matter. By the time we were half way or so down the street I was carrying a thorough selection of odds and ends she had selected for what seemed like everyone she had ever met. “So all of this is strictly necessary then?” I asked quite a while later when we finally stopped for a rest at the far end of the street. “It will help placate my mom when she starts grumbling at us for disappearing on them like we did.” “Ah. Good point, well made. Placation is probably a good policy there…”
We had found ourselves at a nice little park a few blocks down from the end of the downtown tourist trap area, which proved itself a comfortable enough spot to sit for a while as early evening took over from the afternoon. It was made up mostly of well-manicured lawns interspersed with a few gazebos and the occasional ancient oak tree, patiently tolerating these funny little creatures that had so recently showed up in their midst. Becky and I had settled in at one of the gazebos furthest back from the main road, which overlooked a playground tucked away in an isolated corner of the park. We were just kind of passing the time talking about not much in particular while Becky sorted through her recent purchases, digging receipts out of bags and generally looking pretty pleased with herself. Meanwhile I was having a lot of trouble focusing on anything that wasn’t the playground.
Eventually Becky noticed that I kept stealing glances at something over her shoulder and turned curiously to see for herself. “Oh, go ahead.” She laughed as she realized what was going on “Your mind is over there already anyway…” Giggling gleefully, I gave her an appreciative kiss on the muzzle and then took off for the swing set. Nobody can tell me that swing sets aren’t fun. They just are, always have been, and always will be. You can take anyone who denies it and put them on a deserted playground for a while and just watch what eventually happens. If you think about it they’re really the closest us non-avians are ever going to get to flying without the help of a machine.
Between the swings, slide, jungle gym, and other miscellaneous activities there were plenty of things to keep Nick occupied, and Becky was taking advantage of the opportunity to get all her little packages wrapped, labeled, and ready to go. Eventually though the sun was well and truly gone for the night, and it had gotten pretty late, so she decided it was time to get everything rounded up and head back to the cabin. They had a fairly early flight back home in the morning, and it just wouldn’t be a good idea to stay out too late. After getting everything packed away, Becky glanced around looking for Nick. He had, rather untypically, not put in an appearance in a while and she was beginning to wonder what he had gotten himself in to. Heading over to the playground, her questions were answered when she discovered him happily occupied in the middle of a big mud puddle at the bottom of one of the slides.
“What are you…” “I didn’t notice it on the way down the slide, and I was soaked anyway…” I defended cheerfully “Besides it’s really good mud!” “What makes it good mud?” Becky sighed in resignation. It was well past the point where things could be averted, so there really wasn’t any point in getting worked up about it. “There aren’t any rocks or stuff in it.” I explained “And there’s lots of water, so it’s all gooshy!” “If you say so.” Becky nodded as I extracted myself from the puddle. Besides being pretty soaked and quite covered in mud (about par for the course), I discovered with a bit of dismay that my previously dry diaper had done its best to bring as much of the puddle as possible along with us. “Well, at least now we know how much one of these will hold.” I joked as we began our slow waddle back to the car. It’s pretty hard to walk inconspicuously in a completely full diaper, and the fact that it was causing my pants to bulge out noticeably didn’t help matters either. “I feel like an old west gunfighter.” I grinned, exaggerating my stance even more “Ah guess ah missed the showdown at high noon.” I drawled, getting even stranger looks from the few furs finishing up their last little bits of shopping for the evening.
Despite my joking around about it, I was embarrassed enough by my situation to be quite glad when we got back to the car. Gratefully pulling the door handle, I was about to climb in when Becky reached out a paw to stop me. “Hold on a second, you’ll get mud all over everything.” She instructed as she dug a couple of towels out of the trunk and laid them out to protect the seat “There we go. That’ll have to do I guess.” “It’s a rental.” I grumbled as I climbed in and got settled. I was starting to get a bit cold, and it was making me a little bit grumpy, but after we got back on the road and the heater had warmed everything back up nicely I settled down again. We had a pleasant drive back, Becky found something soft on the radio, and I eventually ended up drowsing as much as one can when wearing an inch thick soaking wet diaper that would squoosh suggestively every time I moved.
When we had finally gotten back and settled in for the evening Becky started running a bath, instructing me to stay put and watch the water while she brought in the stuff from the car. “Bubbles?” I questioned hopefully, giving her my best puppy-dog eyes. “Okay.” She agreed, squirting in some of the pink bubble liquid before turning to leave the room. Then, as an afterthought, she picked the bottle back up off the counter and took it with her. “I’m not that bad!” I laughed at her receding back before turning my attention back to the tub. Watching a tub fill isn’t the most intellectually stimulating of pursuits, and before too long I was staring off in to space, not really thinking about much at all.
“That looks about ready.” Becky declared cheerfully, reappearing in the doorway. “Yep.” I agreed, reaching over from my seat on the toilet lid to turn off the water. Fumbling around a bit, I did my best to start getting out of my muddy clothes, when Becky instructed me to “Sit.” Giving me help with things, she deftly had my muddy clothes in a pile on the counter in far less time than I would have managed, leaving me in nothing but my very obviously heavily sagging diaper. “You know,” Becky smiled as she unfastened the tapes and worked it off of my tail “This feels kind of nostalgic in a way…” “Hm?” I questioned curiously. “Well, this is pretty much where I came in.” she laughed “Remember the fountain back at school?” “I guess it is, isn’t it?” I smiled happily “Except this time there’s bubble bath!” “Sometimes you really do have a one track mind, don’t you?” Becky observed helping me in to the tub. “Bubbles.” I agreed as I sunk down into the warm water with a sigh of contentment.
“You do realize that there’s a good chance my entire extended family will be waiting for us at the airport…” Becky stated as she began efficiently soaping up my fur, doing her best to work out as much of the mud as possible. “We could always change flights.” I suggested “Or fly in to a different airport and take a taxi back home.” Becky grinned in spite of herself at that thought. There was more than a little bit of attraction in the idea of slipping through the clutches of her sometimes over-attentive family. Still, she decided, it would be kind of mean to spoil things if they went through all the trouble of being there. “No,” she sighed, absentmindedly wiping off the last little spot of mud hiding behind my ear before letting the bathwater drain and getting the little shower hose thingy ready to rinse off what the now quite grey water had left behind. “It would probably be better to just talk to my dad first. I’ll tell him we wanted a day or two to recover from the trip, and if he can hold off mom for the time being we’d happily submit to whatever family gathering she had planned.” “That would probably work.” I agreed, stepping out of the tub.
Further conversation was cut off for a bit as Becky turned on the furdryer, which as usual quickly had me grinning stupidly, staring towards the warm air with my eyes closed for the duration. Becky took her time getting me completely dried off before finally shutting off the furdryer and patting the toilet lid. “All done! Now let’s get you brushed out before you end up looking like a giant puffball for the next couple of days.” “Are you sure I’m done?” I sighed “There’s got to be some dampness hiding around here somewhere.” “Too much of it and you’ll get dry skin.” She scolded gently as she got to work brushing out my fur, paying particular attention to the end of my tail, which, having suffered the most from the mud puddle incident and subsequent vigorous bathing was beginning to look a little bit worse for the wear. “Quit fidgeting.” Becky grumbled good naturedly “It may take a little while, you’re kind of scruffy looking at the moment!” I couldn’t help but laugh at that one. “Who’s ‘scruffy looking’?” I grumbled, doing my best Han Solo impression, which must have been good enough, since Becky immediately burst out laughing. “That’s actually pretty good!” she complemented when she finally had to gasp in some air. “I aim to please, my princess!” I agreed gallantly before returning to my normal tone of voice. “If you want ‘scruffy looking’ just wait another month or two for when I start blowing coat. I’m told I can out-shed a husky!” “Well it would seem my shiny new mate has all sorts of hidden talents.” Becky teased back.
After Becky was satisfied that I had been descruffified to acceptable standards, we went back to the bedroom. A quick look around found me stating the obvious. “We’re going to have to get all this mess packed up for the flight back tomorrow.” I sighed, as I surveyed the extent of the disaster that was the bedroom. “No, I have to get us packed up for the flight back.” Becky corrected, giving me a swat on the bottom. “You have to go put a dishwasher back together.” “Yes mommy.” I agreed cheerfully, having never been so happy to use the phrase.
To Be Continued...