This was turning out to be one hell of a crappy vacation. It’s not like I get that much time off during the course of a year, and in theory I had everything planned out perfectly: the three day drive out into the high desert had been monotonously uneventful, the weather had been perfect: sunny yet barely above freezing, and the rarified air at the high altitudes wasn’t even giving me much trouble this year…
I had set out on the stalk with a bare minimum of equipment: rifle, optics, and slightly more water than I strictly needed, and that had really been the last thing that had gone right since. The local heche population, scaly, sure-footed little monsters that they are, just refused to cooperate. After four days, first light until last, of tracking and never getting quite within range of the big males, I had pretty much come to terms with my luck, and, with the threat of wasting my game tag looming large, I had decided to settle for a lesser specimen.
While disappointing, it had been doable, and midday of day five found me slowly creeping my way forward along an outcrop of rock overlooking my quarry, my tail twitching in anticipation, ears perked forward…and not paying attention to the gradually thinning ledge below me.
A quick gravitationally assisted decent later found me lying on the desert floor below, spitting out a muzzle full of dirt and gravel, happy that at least nothing seemed to be hurting badly enough to be broken. Seemingly to add insult to injury the group of heche I had been tracking had returned, still a safe distance away, and were staring at me with that toothy reptilian smirk the species is known for. “Oh piss off.” I growled, spitting a bloody puddle of phlegm in their general direction, causing the group to scatter and re-form a good bit further away.
Closing my eyes for a bit I assessed the situation. One of my canines had opened a pretty good sized gash inside my muzzle, but I couldn’t find any loose teeth, so that was a plus. There were a good number of scrapes and bruises, but the thing which would end the hunt for me this trip was a badly sprained ankle.
It took quite a few hours to hobble my way out of the brush, and by the time I finally made it back to the truck the sun was well and truly off-duty for the shift. The group of heche, as if sensing that the threat I represented had passed, had followed me the whole way back to the vehicle, the relative quiet of the night broken now and then by the odd hiss-grunt of their calls. Out of sheer mean-spirited angst I had taken a couple of pot shots at the shadows circling in the gloom. A yelp, devoid of the satisfyingly meaty thump that went with a hit let me know that a near miss kicking up some rock chips had at least made it clear the idea of eating the injured fox invading their land should be strongly reconsidered…
The three hour drive into the city where I had planned on spending the last few days of my trip had been a complete misery. Traffic in to the resort town had been fierce, and navigating through it (driving a stick shift) with a banged up ankle did not lend itself to sunshine and rainbows, and by the time I had gotten myself checked in to the hotel/casino complex I was going to be staying at (and being charged a rate that could only be described as ‘usurious’ for the extra day arriving early had entailed) I was having gory daydreams involving the desk clerk, an underweight boar with only a rudimentary grasp of the common tongue, and the remaining box and a half of cartridges behind the seat of the truck.
While a bloody and very public murder or two would have helped to relieve a good bit of pent-up frustration on my part, local law enforcement would almost certainly choose to further complicate my altogether too complicated day, and probably ruin the last potentially redeeming facet of an otherwise miserable trip: three days of completely interruption, obligation and roommate free kit time.
“And that” I thought “Is how I find myself in this squalid, smoke-filled little bar drinking paint thinner whiskey and sulking over past miseries.” Nothing tends to kill a pout like bludgeoning it with pleasant facts, and no matter how much it ruined an otherwise good sulk the situation just wouldn’t match up with my mood: ‘squalid’ involved furnishings worth more than my apartment that were both high-style and very cozy at the same time; and no matter how often I thought of it as ‘paint thinner whiskey’ the bottle was still an eight year old scotch. “But it’s blended…” I groused to myself “Couldn’t it have tried just a little harder in scotch school and been a single malt? Is that too much to ask?”
My internal monologue was interrupted by the scrape of the stool next to me and a cheerful female voice asking “Are you here for the …convention too?” Turning to my left I found that the place next to me at the bar had been occupied by a strikingly attractive vixen in a business suit that easily cost more than my truck. She wasn’t beautiful so much in the made-up magazine sort of way, but rather could be described as a self-confident cuteness that didn’t have to cheapen itself by trying too hard to be there. The light grey of her business suit did a fantastic job of bringing out the color of her auburn-brown fur, equally set off by the matching contrast of a few pieces of simple yet elegant silver jewelry. But as beautiful as she was it was her eyes that caused me to stare in wonder like a little kit with a particularly shiny pebble: the deepest of greens with tiny flecks of an almost gold color making their appearances as the light shifted. “Um, I’m sorry, wha…oh, no, no conventions. I’m just passing through town for a few days.” I explained as I tried to regain my composure. “Well I suppose I could be mistaken.” She shrugged seriously before her expression turned outright devious “Then again, maybe you are and you just don’t know it yet…” Patting me on the shoulder, she stood back up and was quickly lost in the crowds on the casino floor.
If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s when I’m in over my head, and that one was so far out of my league she could drown me in a desert. Still, for the next couple of hours of drinking and losing at the tables I couldn’t shake the feeling that whatever todd she had mistaken me for must have been on of the luckiest males in the world.
Many hours and more credits than you will ever get me to admit to losing I finally gave up and decided to call it a night. Early morning maybe? That’s the thing about the big resort casinos, the time in the outside world doesn’t make a bit of difference once you walk through those doors: you can get anything you want any time you want, the lighting never changes, and you will be hard pressed to find one of those pesky window things to bother you with a sense of time or weather. “Screw nature anyway!” I decided aloud, alternately jabbing the elevator call button and glaring at the compression bandage on my ankle. “If I can’t eat it, wear it, or make it into a set of pistol grips what good is it anyway?” “Some of it is quite pleasant to smoke, actually…” a male panther in one of the loudest track suits I had ever seen grinned around a large cigar, having gotten out of one of the elevators behind me while I had been playing with the call button on the other wall. Fishing another cigar from the breast pocket of his blazer, he presented it to me before heading on his way. Never try to comprehend the minds of other furs, you’ll just give yourself a headache…
I had been assigned a room quite a way up in the complex, and the ride up in the elevator was rather a long trip. The view from my room had been worth it when I had been up earlier to drop off my stuff and change clothes. Enormous LCD panels had mostly replaced the neon of days past, but it still made an impressive spectacle at night, the city spread out for miles and the headlights of cars tracing out the eight lane super-slab that fed the city until eventually they disappeared into the hills. I was really sort of looking forward to watching the world go by, after, that is, a different sort of changing entirely from the kind I had done that afternoon…long night, lots of drinking, I’m sure you can figure it out.
It was a good plan, right up until I was standing at the door to my room and couldn’t find my keycard! “Well, that’s about the day in a teacup.” I sighed aloud, beginning to unceremoniously dump out the contents of my pockets. There was the usual collection of pocket litter: coins, car keys, a little pen knife, and random bits of paper. But no keycard. Rather angrily I began shoveling the mess back into my pockets when I noticed a neatly folded pink sticky note mixed in with the paper scraps I had dug out of my shirt pocket, which, when I thought about it, was where my room’s keycard should have been. Unfolding the paper revealed two lines of text, penned in a neat, feminine script:
Floor 29, Suite 3
I guess I could have just gone back down to the front desk and gotten the lock reset. It would have been the mature, adult thing to do. This, however, had not been a mature, adult sort of day and instead I ended up walking back to the elevator. I really had given zero thought to my upcoming overreaction, and the gears of mayhem ground to a screeching halt upon turning my attentions to the bank of buttons in the elevator. Engraved neatly on a little brass plaque with all the flair and mannerisms of a truly superior butler were the words ‘Hold button, then insert key or enter code to access floors 28, 29, and Roof.’
In retrospect that moment in the elevator could not have shown my intellectual best: I stared blankly at the little tag for the better part of a minute before realizing I was unconsciously crumpling the obvious in my paw at that very moment. With a look of chagrin I tried to flatten back out the sticky note as much as possible before punching the numbers into the electronic lock. ‘6-5-5-4’ and up we went.
A minute later the doors slid back to reveal the mysterious floor 29, which turned out to be a penthouse complex, which I guess I should have expected. That or maybe office suites? One thing I will say for it, as far as sheer opulence goes it had my floor (no slouch itself) beaten paws-down. A pair of un-numbered double doors dwarfed the elevators on one side of the foyer, a hallway led off the other with little entryway alcoves spaced evenly (though rather far apart) along its length. Suite 3, as one would imagine, was not difficult to locate.
The area was surprisingly devoid of activity. Everywhere else I had been in the hotel there was always someone going about their business, but not here on the 29th floor. It was enough that I hesitated for a minute before ringing the doorbell. (A doorbell. On a hotel room. Yeesh, a wee bit pretentious maybe?)
To no great surprise the door was opened by (a much sleepier version of) the vixen whom I had met previously in the bar downstairs. “You took your time…” she observed “I was beginning to think you weren’t coming.” “Key.” I snapped tersely, trying to glare and yawn at the same time. It ended up being more exasperated than menacing unfortunately. “In good time.” The vixen chided, leading me into an ornate sitting room where a porcelain tea service waited on the table. “Do have a drink.” She offered after I had sat in the provided chair. “I’m beginning to feel more than a little jerked around.” I informed my host, not touching the teacup she had placed in front of me. “Valid enough.” She agreed gracefully, holding up a finger to stem the coming tirade.
“As I see it you are on a vacation that is not going so well. You showed up several days early looking banged up and acting frustrated and distracted about something. You played at the tables recklessly, but without any real sense of interest, as if to vent frustrations before moving on to something special, something that aggression and rage don’t have a place in. I saw you at check-in with that large husky plush, but you took a room for one…no kits or spouse along for the trip, so it must be yours.” “It’s a gift for my niece.” I lied. The accuracy of her analysis was getting a bit unnerving at this point. Sighing with a note of genuine sadness the vixen gently explained that “You don’t have to hide from me. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and I would really prefer a truthful dialogue. It is obviously not a gift: first it’s too well loved, it has belonged to someone for some time; and second if it was a gift you would have left it in your car, not carried it in with your necessary personal effects, poking it’s head out of the backpack instead of crammed in with the clothes and toiletries. So my guess is that you are here to take advantage of some alone time to indulge infantilistic tendencies.” “That’s a great theory, maybe you can spin it into a TV pilot or something.” I snorted, trying my hardest to project disinterest and mild disdain. “The stuffed critter makes a good pillow, and the maids don’t think I’m stealing bedding.”
“Your diaper was showing at the bar,” the vixen informed me blandly, effectively ending my avenues of plausible deniability. “Maybe I was hit by a meteorite and was rendered medically incontinent?” I sulked. I had come up here intending to rain down fire and brimstone, and five minutes later a complete stranger had me sulking in a metaphorical corner. “Don’t pout dear, it’s really not necessary.” She sighed, sipping her tea “You were planning on having a day or two of playtime, right?” “Yeah.” I admitted finally. “Well I’m just offering you some furs to play with.” She explained logically. “There’s still a day left in this year’s play party, and then, hey, who knows?” Putting aside my mildly insulted sense of pride, I nodded in agreement. “Great!” she beamed absolutely radiantly.
“One of the floor rules is a rather strict enforcement of bedtimes for little ones, so I suggest we start thinking about that. Wouldn’t want to get a time-out on the last day, would we?” “No, I guess not.” I agreed, noticing for the first time that my stuff was neatly sitting in the corner of the room. Quite sure of herself, wasn’t she… Seeing the direction of my gaze, the vixen asked if I “would like any help…ah…” “Not this time.” I answered quickly, beginning to blush “I’m not to show my personals to strangers!”
Excusing myself to the bathroom I set what was probably a world record for changing, selecting a pastel pair of two-piece jammies for the evening. They weren’t my nicest or even my favorite, but the ankle wrap ruled out pretty much footed anything. Returning to the other room, I found that the vixen had changed into a pair of lilac footy jammies, with, I noticed, a very obvious diaper bulge. Taking my paw, she led me into the bedroom where we snuggled in for the night, I quite hesitantly, her without such qualms. Feeling the tenseness in my body as she curled up next to me, she sighed sympathetically. “Strangers, right?” she said kindly “Strangers are just furs you don’t know. Let’s talk…”
When the sun was beginning to come up and we had finally run out of words we weren’t strangers any more. Her name was Alice, and I think she was the most genuinely kind and caring fur I had ever met. And that, despite all my experience and prior history to the contrary, amazingly didn’t fill me with the pressing and immediate need to search for ulterior motives. In a lot of ways we were pretty much opposites of each other, personality-wise: she was as cheerfully outgoing and confident as I was pessimistic and shy. But when the balances were tallied up even our differences really sort of provided for each other. She had some strong instincts to be both cared for and also remain in charge of situations at the same time. I, meanwhile, wanted to just let everything slip away for a time regardless of what ‘terms and conditions apply’.
This all left me in a real quandary: the opportunity to have someone else to play with was a really tempting thing. Who knows when or even if I would get the chance again. But (and this was the scary part) what happens when it is over? Alice, I had to admit to myself, was a fur that seemed to be notoriously easy to fall in love with, and then where would I be? I thought this all over as much as one can while cuddling a beautiful female…and slowly developing a real need to pee. At first I tried to gingerly extract myself from the well-burrowed-in-to nest of bedding, plushies, and vixen who seemed to have decided in her sleep that I was some amalgamation of the former two, but every time I tried to extract my shoulder from where she was using it as a pillow Alice would just wiggle around, resituating herself and murr in her sleep… I wasn’t going to be getting up without waking her, and I really didn’t want to do that: she had been awake at least as long as I had, and by now sunlight was beginning to creep in around the edge of the drapes. It was officially no longer yesterday.
Bladder eventually won over hesitancy and I just gave up on my escape attempt, a warm wetness beginning to bulge the front of my diaper. The immediately pressing need having passed, I gave out a relieved little sigh and snuggled back up against Alice and was just starting to drift back off to sleep when she squeezed my arm and little and whispered “I win. Now go back to sleep little kit. No breakfast until after naptimes…”
Naptimes ended up being until almost lunch time, at which point I was awoken by an enthusiastic “Are you up? Are you up? Are you up?” punctuated by a mildly overenthusiastic tapping on the end of my muzzle. “Not up.” I groaned, hiding my face under my tail. “Yous talked, so yous up!” Alice argued cheerfully, fluffing through my tailfur until she found muzzle, then continued her tapping. “Okay, I’m getting up…” I sighed. I am not, have never been, nor ever claimed to be, a morning fur. Morning being in the early afternoon notwithstanding, it takes a while to get going after I wake up. Alice put in a few extra taps just for good measure. Ah well, at least she didn’t throw open the drapes and let the sunlight in. There’s nothing like being blinded first thing in the morning…
“You taked too long to wakeies.” Alice informed me seriously “I’s already up and back!” “I’m sorry, you could have just gotten me up, I wouldn’t have minded.” I apologized. Here we had just met and I was already messing things up…smooth operator, no? “It’s okay.” She assured me in a completely different mannerism “You looked like you needed the sleep.” Finally dragging myself up, I blinked as I looked around the room. “There you are.” Alice smiled, patting me on the head indulgently “I knew you were around in there somewhere.” I couldn’t help but smile at that as I stretched and got out of bed, trying not to put too much weight on my still-complaining ankle.
Alice had changed clothes while I was asleep into loose jeans and a semi-dressy blouse, which seemed quite a bit more comfortable than the suit I had seen her in yesterday (though not as much so as her pajamas…). “I probably should go down and dig up some clean clothes.” I sighed, not tremendously eager to leave. “Oh, I looted your room already.” She offered “You really didn’t have as much clothing as I had hoped. Unless you’ve got more in that aluminum case I couldn’t get open.” “Nope, just more hunting stuff. I didn’t expect to have anywhere outside my room to wear things.” I explained. “I could see that not being much of a consideration.” She nodded, beginning to dig through my various bags of stuff. “I would see about borrowing something, except that the convention is over tomorrow and it’s probably not worth the trouble at this point.”
Alice eventually settled on wind pants and a plain t-shirt, though every now and then I caught her giving the stuff hanging up in her closet looks I wasn’t sure I was comfortable with. “Ah well.” She eventually sighed “It can’t be helped, I guess.” Taking my paw she led me to the bathroom, then after setting a towel down on the tile, motioned for me to sit down. “Umm…” I began, starting to blush before she cut me off. “No arguments now. We both know you need it…I would have let you do me if you had been up.” “Fair enough.” I nodded, lying down on the towel.
Alice already had everything (and I do mean everything) that one could possibly need to change a diaper set up along the two-sink counter that ran the length of the room between an enormous marble bathtub on one side, and an equally large glass shower stall on the other. She had set a tray across one of the sinks as well, creating additional space for her myriad of bottles, tubes, and jars. “Just move on in like you own the place.” I joked “I’m sure the cleaning service won’t mind…” “Good little boys don’t sass their babysitters.” Alice explained patiently “But if it makes you feel better, just assume I do own the place.” “Yes Ms. Alice.” I nodded contritely, ending the discussion.
“Paws up!” she giggled, helping me get my pajama top over my head. Tossing them in the clothes hamper, Alice turned her attentions to the bottoms, pulling the waist down to my knees before carefully easing out my still painfully swollen ankle. Then after passing the hazardous point of things she whisked off the other leg and deposited it in the hamper as well.
I had already begun blushing in anticipation of what was coming next when Alice took a moment to examine my banged-up ankle. “Well it looks like shoes are not in your future today little guy… There’s still much more swelling than they would allow, so… (she stretched out the last syllable, playing up the level of mystery to go with my badly acted look of suspense) …you have a choice of socks or your own little paw pads.” “Paw pads.” I decided, laughing as she played with my toes for a bit, to both our amusements.
“There is still a last little thing which needs to be tended to before we shuffle out into the day.” Alice smiled widely, giving me a pat on the front of my diaper. “We wouldn’t want the other caretakers thinking I don’t take proper care of my charges, would we?” “No Ms. Alice.” I shook my head, blushing fiercely as she untapped the sides of my diaper, folding down the front and leaving me laid bare to cold air and twinkling eyes.
Slipping the old diaper out from under me, Alice turned her attentions to the section of the counter devoted to boxes of wipes, selected a package and started in on a quite thorough cleaning of my now thoroughly awake and attentive diaper area. “Enjoying yourself little guy?” Alice asked rhetorically as she slipped a clean diaper under me and threaded my tail through the tail hole. Then, turning back to the counter began to pursue her selection of stuff. “Hmm…I think we’ll go with this one.” She decided, picking out a jar. After sprinkling on a good helping of the powder she dusted just a little bit on the end of a finger and held it under my muzzle for my approval. Through the expected scent of baby powder there was another scent, a sort of woodsy piney scent. “Neat, huh?” Alice grinned at my curious expression “One of the boutique shops near where I work started selling them a few week ago and I kind of… umm… enthusiastically over bought.” “It happens.” I agreed as she folded up the front of my diaper and fastened the tapes.
“So, clothes then, or are you good to go?” Alice asked cheerfully as she bagged the old diaper and tossed it in the trash can by the sink. (It’s always good to not wear out your welcome with the housekeeping staff!) “Clothes.” I sighed, not yet comfortable to go ‘as-is’, regardless of how accepting the crowd might be. “Okay then.” Alice nodded understandingly as she helped me on with things, even though with wind pants and a t-shirt it wasn’t really all that necessary. “No socks?” “No socks.”
“Now it might be a little overwhelming at first, but I promise everyone is friendly, and I’ll be with you the whole time.” Alice had stopped in front of the double doors on the opposite side of the main corridor for a pep talk. Which was probably a good idea: I was starting to feel like I would need it. Taking my paw, she drug me through the double doors…into a completely anticlimactic hallway of conference rooms. I could hear the general hubbub of a group of furs off towards the end of the hallway, but aside from that there wasn’t anything going on. “It’s lunch time.” Alice explained, seeing my dubious expression. “It’s one of the floor rules, like lights-out last night, there are scheduled meal times. I mean you can eat whenever you want, we just don’t want random take-out and room service showing up all day. It tends to make furs nervous. And besides, cubs need a structured routine…” “That makes sense.” I agreed as we headed down the hallway.
We turned in to what was probably intended to be used as a semi-formal dining room or medium sized conference room but at the moment contained three or four dozen furs of a variety of species (and, apparently stages of age-regression) in the process of having lunch. “Wow.” I stuttered, feeling my tummy suddenly take what felt like a multi-floor drop down in to the bottoms of my feet. I hadn’t thought things were going to be quite so….populous? Sensing my growing apprehension, Alice led me to a mostly quiet part of the room, occasionally waving or stopping to talk for a minute with furs she knew. Mostly I just tried to be inconspicuous.
We ended up settling down at one of the smaller tables, near a sofa where a group of caregivers were engaged in a post-meal conversation of one sort of another. It seemed like a pretty good spot, especially since it was about as far as you could get from a group of little boys engaged in seeing exactly how much of a food fight they could have without getting caught.
“Now wait here while I go get you some lunch, okay?” Alice instructed, giving my paw a squeeze before disappearing into the crowd. As soon as she was gone from sight I felt my agitation increase exponentially. I had never been good around large groups or strangers, and come to think of it what in the world was I doing here? Beginning to hyperventilate a little I tried to just concentrate on the wood grain of the tabletop. Alice was coming back, wasn’t she? She said she would! Maybe I should go back to her room and wait there for her…but I didn’t have a keycard, not even to my room a few floors down. Not even my car keys! Maybe I should just go down to the hotel lobby for a while. But I couldn’t, not dressed like this… Things seemed to be shrinking down to that one piece of table and suddenly I noticed that I had started sniffling quietly.
“Are you okay there, little guy?” A voice asked from somewhere that wasn’t the tabletop. “Yes…no…I don’t know!” I whispered, disgusted at myself for doing it. “Who are you here with?” He asked gently, concern evident in his voice. “Ms. Alice.” I got out, despite everything quickly beginning to unravel around me. “Anthony, stay here with him, I’m going to go find his mama.” “Yeppers.” A different male voice agreed, followed by the scrape of a chair.
“Can I touch you?” Anthony asked “You don’t hafta look up even if you don’t want to.” “Uh huh.” I nodded, looking over to see a husky who looked to be a year or two older than me in both senses. “What’s your name?” Anthony asked, putting an arm around my shoulder. “Nick.” I answered, doing my best not to flinch away. “My daddy Chris will go find Ms. Alice for you.” Anthony assured me. “What’s wrong anyways, just too many furs and too much new stuff?” “Uh huh.” I nodded “I don’t do so well with new furs.” I explained “It’s just scary I guess…” “I’m new.” Anthony offered , squeezing me reassuringly “Am I scary?” “Not really.” I conceded. “Well maybe you just need some furs you know around.” He decided logically “Then the furs you know will cancel out some of the ones you don’t, and it will make a smaller number of strangers. That’s math!” Pointing out the logical fallacies in Anthony’s argument seemed a little bit undiplomatic, but luckily I was spared needing to fabricate a tasteful answer by Chris and Alice’s hurried return. Chris, it turned out was a fastidiously neat looking (even by feline standards) Siamese cat.
“Nick! Are you okay little one? What’s the matter?” Alice questioned, looking as panicky as I was feeling. “Severe social anxiety.” Anthony decided in a no nonsense, professional tone I had not heard before as he handed me off to Alice. She, meanwhile, had started to stroke my headfur comfortingly while very nearly hugging me to death. “He’s doing a little better now, but I don’t think he should be unattended in large groups, just as a preventative measure.” “Oh, I’m not letting him out of my sight again!” Alice declared almost viciously. “Well, if that’s settled, it may be best for all to not dwell on it.” Chris suggested “So who’s up for lunch…
Food was indeed a welcome diversion, not the least because a full tummy is usually too distracted to make trouble. “I thought you could probably use a fairly substantial meal after missing breakfast this morning, so I decided to go with solids this time around.” Alice explained, presenting a tray of macaroni for my approval. I was almost disappointed to note that it was quite a bit fancier than the old fashioned box-and-pouch stuff known to children and bachelors the world over for almost the same reason. Anthony, meanwhile was much less inclined to wax philosophical about mac-and-cheese. He was making a pretty good sized mess of things until Chris took feeding duty over himself. Alice, meanwhile, just smiled and shook her head when I looked around for the spoon. Shaking my head questioningly, I then realized her intent and nodded in agreement. Either she didn’t want to turn macaroni messes into a competition or else she just particularly liked the idea, either way she started neatly spooning it up and feeding it to me.
“See” Chris was pointing out to Anthony “He’s eating without making a mess…maybe you could give it a try sometime, there really is something to it.” Anthony just stuck out his tongue, then quite deliberately flicked a piece of macaroni into Chris’ headfur. “Hey!” Chris yowled in exasperation “If you don’t settle down right now you are going straight to time out after lunch.” To my mild surprise Anthony pretty much settled down after that, finishing lunch without further incident.
Anthony ran out of food quite a bit sooner than Alice and I, largely because most of his ended up on the table, but factoring in the time Chris had to spend with a damp washcloth cleaning him up we were both actually done at about the same time. “So, what now then?” Alice teased “Should we go clean our rooms, maybe?” “Games! Games! Games, games, games games!” Anthony suggested rather forcefully, grabbing my paw and pretty much dragging me across the hall and down a room while Alice and Chris followed behind at a more reasonable pace. They were both, I noticed, grinning in amusement at my thoroughly startled expression.
Like the dining room across the hall, this one had apparently started out as a conference room. Most of the furniture had been moved aside and a huge pile of toys were scattered across the floor with only halfhearted attempts at paths cleared through the rubble. On the far wall a partially open set of sliding doors led off into an overflow room of some sort. The games room was slowly gaining in occupancy, but as yet was not populous enough to account for everyone I had seen at lunch. “Where did everyones go?” I wondered aloud as Anthony drug me through the room towards the doors in the back. “There’s lots of stuff besides the game room.” Anthony explained patiently “There’s TV rooms and we have the roof greenhouse and pools. Plus after lunch a lot of cubs are ‘prolly getting changed too…” “Makes sense.” I nodded.
Going through the sliding doors into the dimmed overflow room revealed a truly impressive sight. Somefur had looted what must have been the majority of the huge, flat panel TVs from the suites on the floor and hooked up a half dozen or so console systems along the walls. Two dozen beanbag chairs and a table overflowing with game disks rounded out the setup. “Imagine a bunch of four year olds with paychecks.” Alice laughed, having caught back up with Anthony and I. “I can’t claim I’ve not done the same thing now and then.” I admitted “The local toy store thinks I have some really spoiled kits at home…” “Well it’s true in a way.” Alice laughed as we all settled down in front of one of the systems. “Not spoiled.” I disagreed as Alice settled down in my lap. “Whatever you say dear.” She humored me.
Anthony fired up a cartoonishly styled go-kart racing game, then flopped down between Chris and Alice and I. I’d not played this particular game before, and I quickly discovered that it was a lot harder than it looked…but was a whole lot of fun. I was about the worst at it, it turned out to be one of Anthony’s favorites, and both he and Chris had apparently logged a lot of hours of game time. But Alice turned out to be the real surprise, just absolutely dominating at it. “Not just another pretty face!” she giggled after winning her sixth straight game, paws down. “No, not just.” I grinned back. Then, going out on a limb a little I gave her a not entirely chaste kiss on the muzzle. My momentary fear of rejection was pretty much quashed by the collected looks of flattered, embarrassed, and deeply pleased Alice exhibited all in a few seconds. Well, at least I can’t be accused of being predictable…females like spontaneity, right? “Oh oh oh! I think we just had a ‘couples moment’!” Chris laughed in a singsong voice and an honestly pleased expression. “Oh sure, and I’m the one who acts like a puppy.” Anthony groaned before the auto start timer drug everyone back in to the game.
We all spent a good bit of the afternoon in the game room playing a variety of different things. At the same time my new friends were introducing me to their friends as furs came and went through the afternoon. It really seemed like between the three of them my protective coterie of tour guides knew almost everyfur on the floor, and the few they didn’t were quickly filled in by one or the other of the furs who would play through for a game or two while waiting on one thing or another. So about the time I was getting burned out on video games (and had developed a rather uncontrollable case of yawns) it would be a pretty safe bet that I had made the acquaintance of pretty much everyone on the floor.
“I think it’s getting near to naptime for my little kit here.” Alice decided. “I’m okay.” I shrugged, fending off another yawn. “Droopy whiskers a naptime makes!” Alice informed me in a very no nonsense tone of voice. “Aww…” Anthony griped, not happy to lose his gaming buddy. “We were going to try out the pool this afternoon anyway.” Chris explained to Alice, both ignoring Anthony and I completely “Maybe we can meet up for dinner, then give the little guys a bit more playtime before lights out tonight.” After finalizing their plans, the caretakers pried us away from the video game console and off we went on our own separate errands.
“You didn’t have to break up the party back there, I’m feeling okay.” “You’re constantly yawning, and trip over your paws every five or six steps, so that means…Naptime!” “I guess that makes sense.” I agreed, flopping out on the bed and bouncing a little as I tried to avoid getting my ankle involved. “Are you going naptimes too?” I queried as Alice settled down at the desk across the room and started booting up a laptop that had appeared from under the desk when my attentions were distracted elsewhere. “In a minute honey. I’ve got to take a look at my work email really quickly…they never seem to be able to manage without me for more than a couple hours at a time.” “Well I hope you’re at least billing them for it.” I grumbled, feeling slightly indignant on her behalf. “Sadly, I’m salaried.” She shrugged. “The facts of life I’m afraid…” “The facts of life are for older kits.” I grumbled “Us young-uns have no need of your facts!” “True as that may be, the work won’t finish itself.”
I tried not to sulk, I really did, but I couldn’t quite get over being jealous of her work. It was eating in to the very limited amount of time I had left with Alice. What was it about her anyway? I wondered to myself. There was the obvious shared interests, but I couldn’t convince myself it was just that, not after the long, personally meaningful discussions of the night before. She was very intelligent, creative and capable. But she was a much softer fur than ‘business lady’ would lead one to believe. She was genuine, and had made me trust her in a very short amount of time. “Now if I could just find a version that likes me back.” I sighed. Digging around in the bedding I eventually extracted a pacifier. Whither it was mine or Alice’s didn’t really make any real difference all in all: she was working, so there.
I had just about hit the point of falling asleep where I had become illogically cranky about more or less anything I could concentrate on long enough when Alice crawled in to bed, snuggling her back up against my chest and resting her head against my shoulder. “All done.” She sighed “I like my work but there really isn’t anyone I can hand the job off to entirely.” “Can’t hear you, sleeping now.” I mumbled around the pacifier. “And there’s where that went…” she giggled “At least I didn’t lose it!” “S’ lost.” I informed her “Never going to see it again.” “Well, I guess I’ll have to make do then, won’t I?” Alice shrugged. Dragging my arm over her shoulders like a blanket, she took my paw and began counting on my fingers. “One…two…three… Hmm, I think these two!” she decided, popping my index and middle fingers into her muzzle. “Okay, but no teething, agreed little one?” “I make no promises in that regard.” She informed me, nipping the ends of my fingers gently. Something about the big adult words in the little kit voice just struck me as hilarious, and I would be willing to bet that I was grinning long after I had fallen asleep.
I was dreaming. But that was really quite all right. Alice and I were back out in the desert cuddled up in the bed of the truck, a crackling bonfire a few yards away casting its light and warmth with the moving shadows around our little campsite. We had been watching the stars and talking earlier, but Alice had drifted off to sleep. I was okay with that: we were cozy and it was pretty out, and really I couldn’t think if anywhere I’d rather be.
“You’re going to need to ask her to see you again when the weekend is over.” A reptilian hiss informed me matter-of-factly “Need to, but you won’t.” Looking around, I finally located the voice: sitting on a rock about ten yards away was a heche, its ugly snout recently pretty badly scraped up. “I don’t see how that’s any of your business.” I grumbled, not happy with having my sense of tranquility disturbed. “I don’t like you, so I’m going to enjoy watching you screw your chance up.” The lizard informed me with a toothy grin that left nothing to the imagination. You’ll never convince me that anything really needs two sets of teeth like that, one pair in front of the other and all about as pointy as a steak knife.
“I shot you, didn’t I?” I realized. “Yes, and thank you for that, by the way…I was only going to bite off a little bit of you, a snack really.” “Well, just stay there a minute and I’ll fix all your ills.” I offered cordially, groping over my head through the split-window of the cab. “You can’t shoot your subconscious.” The heche scoffed “Besides, you don’t want to wake Alice up, do you?” “Granting you that” I sighed “What’s your point?” “My point? Come on, do I really have to spell it out for you?” “You’re pretty mouthy for a figment of my imagination…” I decided, looking over my shoulder for the rifle again.
“Just hold on a minute.” The lizard spat “I’m glad I’m not the one who has to reign you in…” “A 220 grain bullet will turn you into a greasy little smear on the rocks, so either talk sense or buzz off!” I spat back. “Small words then.” The heche mocked “You like her a lot. You are pretty sure she likes you too. But you are too flat out scared to ask her if she wants to try to make something of this. Soon the weekend is going to be over, she’ll be gone, and it’s going to eat you up inside, maybe forever. And I’m going to enjoy watching the train wreck.” The heche curled its toes and gave me a smug, self-satisfied grin. “I see.” I nodded calmly. “And maybe I’ll just wake up and ask her out.” “No you won’t, and we both know it. That’s why it is going to be so fun!” “Well, since you know me so well, how about I tell you what I’m going to do? I’m going to get the rifle out of the cab of this truck and I’m going to kill you. And then tomorrow after your ‘train wreck’ I’m going to take the real one back out to the desert. I’m going to track down your real scaly self, I’m going to shoot you in the spine, and I’m going to leave you there for the rest of your scaly little friends to eat. Or didn’t you know heche are cannibalistic?” I yelled as I practically dove through the truck window, dead set on doing the vile little reptile permanent bodily harm.
As my paw brushed the rifle’s checkered beech stock the light from the fire disappeared and the heche started laughing. “You get pretty focused when you’re angry, don’t you?” it teased…and then everything was gone. The truck, the gun, the desert, and Alice, leaving me sitting in cold black nothing with a floor. “Well damn.” I sighed, curling up in a ball in the dark “I really hope I wake up soon…”
After many black eternities I was gently woken up by Alice scootching around in her sleep. I felt much worse than I had before I’d gone to bed in the first place: shaking, emotionally drained, and unable to convince myself the sniffles I was barely containing had anything to do with getting bed fuzzies in my muzzle. The times I need a hug the worst are usually the times I can stand someone touching me the least. What I really wanted was to wake up Alice and ask her to hold me and make it all better. Instead I did my best to not disturb her until I had pulled myself together enough to not give away my state of sinking emotional chaos.
When I was pretty sure I had pulled myself together as much as was likely to be in the cards I turned my attentions to what was troubling the little girl-kit lying next to me. When I set aside my self absorbed whining it very quickly became clear what was bothering Alice. My suspicions were confirmed after I convinced myself to slip a finger (as chastely as possible...I only sort of had permission after all: the difference between a gentleman and a jerk is the decisions made when you know you’ll get away with it.) under the elastic on her diaper, which was in fact quite soaked.
Since she wasn’t really sleeping all that well anyway, I made the command decision that naptimes were done for the day. “Hey little miss…” I said quietly, gently stroking her whiskers “You inside there somewhere?” “Mmm…” she smiled up at me with drowsy eyes. “You’re wet, and you were rolling around quite a bit…” Looking at the clock on the nightstand, Alice agreed that “That’s probably enough napping for today!” “Would the little kit like a change?” I asked playfully. “Yeppers!” Alice nodded eagerly, grabbing my paw and let me lead her into the bathroom.
Setting down a sufficiently large enough pile of towels to make the floor at least moderately comfortable I helped Alice to get settled down, popping the pacifier I’d co-opted before our nap in her muzzle. “There you go!” I laughed as she sighed contentedly. Unzipping her footed sleeper I carefully worked the legs down over her paws before pulling the other part up over her head, leaving her in just her rather bulging diaper. Remembering where she kept the clean diapers from our last foray I fished a fresh one out of the counter before turning my attentions to the ‘counter of choices’. “Do you have a favorite wipe?” I asked dubiously, having a little trouble with having choices beyond just what the last store I’d happened to be in stocked.
Alice chose to be less than enlightening, just shrugging before returning her attentions to the paci. With a mental shrug I chose a brand I used pretty regularly…not the most creative choice, but one I knew from personal experience both worked well and wouldn’t cause potentially nasty surprises later.
Unfastening the tapes on her old diaper I got Alice to lift up a little and slipped it out from under her, bagged it neatly and tossed it in the trash can. “There we go! Now let’s get you cleaned up, okay?” I commented, taking the wipes I’d selected and thoroughly cleaning up her diaper area. It was a real struggle, but I mostly kept myself from lingering in certain…places longer than strictly necessary. (Alice didn’t seem to mind, and was maybe a little disappointed, but after all we did only just meet the other night…) Unfolding the new diaper, I slipped it under Alice, then threaded her tail through the diaper’s tail hole. Next came the task of selecting a powder, which seemed like a pretty daunting choice until I happened to notice that a can of lilac scented powder was considerably more used up than the others. Feeling proud of myself, I showed my selection to Alice. “I’ll bet you like this one, huh?” Giving me a pleased smile, she nodded “I likes that one bestest!” “I thought so.” I nodded back as I sprinkled a good helping on her diaper area, then folded up the front and fastened up the tapes. “There we go, all done!” I declared, helping her up and putting away the towels.
We settled back down in the other room. More specifically I sat while Alice dug through her closet trying to decide which outfit she wanted to wear. Unfortunately this was a task which I was particularly dissatisfactory at. I could almost tell the difference between various types of clothing, but that was about all. Eventually she did settle on an outfit and we were ready to head back out to meet Chris and Anthony.
Chris and Anthony were late. We had already finished up with the actual eating part of ‘dinner’ and had settled down on the sofas where Alice was having tea with some of the other caretakers while I was sprawled out on the sofa with my head in her lap having a bottle of juice.
I was quite happily snuggled down and not paying attention to anything in particular when Anthony popped in to view over the arm of the sofa. (Upside down from my perspective and sticking his tongue out, he may have been going for ‘startling’ but didn’t get much beyond ‘comic’….) “Hiya!” he laughed cheerfully. “You’re late.” I observed with mock severity “They ran out of food while Alice and I were waiting for you two, and now we’re all going to starve.” “Really?” “No. Except the part were you’re late.” “Well,” Anthony explained cheerfully “First daddy Chris was going to change me before naptime, but then there was yiffing instead, and after that Mr. Tidy thought his fur was too mussed, so he went to take a shower, but he left the bathroom door open and then there was some more yiffing, and then…” “Okay, that would be way too much information!” Chris interrupted hastily, visibly blushing through his fur. “Oookay.” Anthony sighed, attempting to sound as horribly inconvenienced as possible before changing the subject.
“We’s should all go up to the rooftop gardens and watch the sunset.” He suggested, grabbing Chris’ paw and trying to drag him back out of the armchair he had just occupied. “If we go up to the gardens, can I maybe sit down up there?” Chris sighed, melodramatically dragging himself up out of the chair. “We’re going to go up too.” Alice nodded, taking her leave from the little tea party with a cheerful wave. “If I don’t see any of you tomorrow on our way out you’ve all got my email…” Following everyone back in to the elevator, Alice commented that “I don’t think I’ve actually gotten any fresh air since the beginning of the weekend…” “I met you down on the gaming floor the other day, remember?” I pointed out “What about then?” “Yes, and if you recall that warthog who you were losing all your money to was smoking like a chimney.” “Touché.” I conceded as the elevator door closed and Chris inserted his card into the badge reader. “Going up!” Anthony laughed eagerly as the elevator began to rise.
The rooftop gardens could legitimately be described as exquisite. About half the roof was taken up by a massive greenhouse stocked as a northern birch forest, including several interconnected pools stocked with fish and turtles. The other half of the roof was an open air desert, like the lands surrounding the city. “Neat.” I laughed “It’s like outside, but they took the needles off the cactus!” “No. They didn’t.” Anthony grumbled darkly, licking his paw pad. “I warned you.” Chris grumbled back in a long suffering sigh before explaining.
“There’s a pool over in the far corner of the roof, which is landscaped like the rest of the roof. Well some of the pups decided to build sand castles, and it turned out that among other things they planted here were those tiny little barrel cacti with the gigantic needles. Anthony found one the hard way and I’m surprised that they didn’t hear his howling all the way down on the first floor!” “It hurt!” Anthony sniffed, sounding authentically put out by the experience. “Poor little puppy.” Alice sympathized “Sometimes it’s hard to just leave things alone…there’s so much neat stuff to play with.”
“So where’s a good spot to see the sunset?” I queried. “Over by the pool is best.” Anthony explained, taking the lead in our pseudo-desert trek. It turned out to be a longer hike than I had thought it would be—the building footprint didn’t seem nearly as big downstairs where it wasn’t a flat, unobstructed surface, and by the time we got to the far corner my enthusiastic walk had turned into a mildly painful limp.
The pool had been designed to resemble a desert oasis. Not even vaguely native in this region of the world, but the artistic merit of the design earned them a pass on the geology and botany exams. A deceptively nice set of wicker furniture made up the seating areas. “This is nice.” I decided “A little more vacant than I expected, but nice.” “Everyone’s flying out tomorrow morning, so a lot of furs are downstairs packing up for the trip back. Also there are a couple of tournaments winding down for the year.” “Did you play in any of them?” I wondered as we pulled together a set of chairs and settled in to watch the western skyline. (The hotel was big enough that despite being into the city proper a bit we still had a really good view of the surrounding desert hills.) “Competitive gaming makes him bratty.” Chris laughed “He gets himself all worked up and inevitably ends up sulking in a corner.” “Do not!” Anthony disagreed “…well not much anyways.”
The conversation drifted pleasantly, eventually trailing off as the sun dropped below the horizon, painting the hills in shades of yellow and red, eventually turning to blues and purples, and finally the speckled black of the desert night. A minute or two after daylight was well and truly gone the lights in the pool clicked on, bathing the area in soft green luminescence. “That was nice.” Alice sighed happily, squeezing my paw. “Mmhm..” I agreed, squeezing back, reluctant to let go. Unbidden, an image of the scraped up heche on its rock swam into my mind, adding an unwanted sense of time to the evening. “I’m going to kill that stupid lizard!” I swore under my breath, the notion of buying a much heavier bore gun to do it with giving me a vindictive little grin. “Sorry?” Alice asked, having not caught what I said. “Nothing in particular.” I placated with a front of cheerfulness I could barely even fake.
“Are you okay?” Anthony asked “Your mood kind of seems to have taken a nosedive all of a sudden…” “I’m fine.” I explained half-truthfully “I’m just not looking forward to tomorrow.” “Yeah, the trip home is always kind of a letdown.” Chris nodded “But hey, there’s always next year to look forward too!” “I suppose.” I nodded, not really mollified, but not wanting to bring down the party, as it were. “You just need to go for a swim. That cheers everyone up!” Anthony decided with authority. To emphasize his point he went and started walking along the edge of the deck like it was a tightrope. “Pools are fun! Everyone likes pools.” “Pup! That’s probably not the best idea you’ve had today…you should knock it off before…” Chris’ nagging was cut off by a large splash which rendered it obsolete anyway. “Too late.” Alice shrugged, helping us fish the now thoroughly waterlogged husky back out of the pool.
“Daddy Chris…I think I need changed!” Anthony declared cheerfully. That was really about the understatement of the week, I decided as I looked Anthony over. His diaper had soaked up far more water than I would have thought possible, bulging out in all directions and forcing him to walk with an exaggerated waddle. “Heh heh…Squishy!” he laughed, clearly enjoying himself immensely: his tail was wagging furiously and he had the biggest grin I had ever seen on his muzzle. “Is there any water left in the pool?” I teased “Or are you going to take it all back to your room with you?” “Super Plus absorbency!” he grinned back, patting the diaper’s bulging crotch area and giving us a thumbs up “They’re the diaperiest!” “And apparently can be used as emergency sand bags in the event of a flood.” Alice nodded seriously. “Oh well.” Chris sighed “We needed to be heading for bed anyway, we’ve got to catch the red-eye out tomorrow.” Fishing out a couple of scraps of paper he gave Alice and I his email before rounding up Anthony. “Come on you little troublemaker! Time for bed!” “Aww…” Anthony sighed, waving over his shoulder as he allowed the Siamese cat to drag him into the elevator, leaving Alice and I alone on the roof.
Turning her chair so she was facing me, Alice explained that “We need to have a serious talk now.” “Here it comes.” I thought to myself, visions of gleeful heche dancing in my mind. “It’s been an interesting weekend, and I had a really nice time… Well…er…I don’t exactly know how to put this.” Closing her eyes and choosing her words carefully before continuing, Alice was not filling me with warm feelings. I did appreciate all the effort she was obviously putting in to letting me down gently though, aside from it greatly extending the time required to say ‘go away now’… Opening her eyes, Alice took my paws in hers and looked me in the eyes with a nervously hopeful expression on her muzzle. “I want to ‘adopt’.”