I still don’t get the point of smartphones. When I’d taken a job in the legal department of a telecom hardware development company (not the “walled garden”, the good one) I had been happily using my antiquated flip-phone for years. It made calls, and the battery would hold a charge for weeks: I was good. Sadly, management was quick to inform me that one of the perks of working for them was that employees got to test out pre-release hardware from the development labs. They called it “the latest and greatest”, I rather less charitably called it what it was: being a test-bed under a nondisclosure agreement.
Sure, these things could do way more than my old phone; and the fact that the powers that be encouraged us to do whatever we wanted on the hardware, no matter how…eclectic it might be, was pretty amusing for the first couple of weeks; but after they rolled out a new “intelligent personal assistant” productivity suite, things started to get glitchy. And after a couple of months “glitchy” turned into “downright strange”.
I remember exactly when this whole mess started: one of my co-workers suggested I give an online dating app a try “because they’re one of the most popular things furs use their phones for, and we need a wider baseline metric”. (If I was being less charitable I would accuse the cheetah femme from the software lab of playing “virtual matchmaker” in her own bizarre I.T. department sort of way…some folks can’t seem to deal with the concept of single furs very well.) It wasn’t something I was interested in at this point in my life, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that I didn’t expect a dating app to be very useful for finding somefur compatible with my…eccentricies, but if they wanted to pay me to sit around and swipe left and right for a few hours, I could deal with it. It sure beat filling out SEC compliance reports!
I actually felt a little bad when an admittedly pretty cat popped up as a match in the chat window. It felt too much like deceptive advertising—I wasn’t actually “in the market”, and it was pretty obviously a waste of her time. “This was a bad idea.” I groaned inwardly as I leaned back in my chair and tried to think up the most tactful way to answer “So what are you into?” with an apology.
And that’s the exact moment things started getting weird. Before I even began to tap out an answer the auto complete bar had already come up with its suggestions: “I”, “Like”, “Diapers”. “The hell?” I swore under my breath. Now, granted, I had used the phone for some…extracurricular…web browsing (kind of a lot of extracurricular web browsing actually: my router had caught the last train west the week before and it had taken me a while to get around to replacing it), and granted that the whole point of the ‘virtual assistant’ was its machine learning functionality, but I was decidedly uncomfortable with “Ginny” involving itself in my choice of underwear! Quickly closing the app, I shot development a fast email to the effect of adding an option for users to be able to make certain phrases and sites opaque to the software, then promptly got back to work.
Normalcy lasted until approximately lunchtime: I had just settled down to flip through a new issue of Engine Builder and enjoy (in as much as anyone enjoys) my Styrofoam cup of crummy dehydrated ramen when my phone chimed the “assistant” tone, and promptly opened up a web browser with an article on healthy low-sodium meal options. “Nice try.” I grinned, flipping the phone over on my desk. I wasn’t particularly surprised by this new development; I’d heard some of the devs discussing various uses of camera integration, including dietary monitoring, a while back. “Kinda wish they would warn us when they patched in new features…” I mused as I dug into my cup of “suicide by sodium”. Only to be interrupted by “Ginny” chiming repeatedly. Sighing, I powered off the phone and tossed it in my desk. Healthy suggestions are one thing, but if I wanted petulant nagging I would call my parents.
It being Friday, I didn’t give it another thought: I put in my hours until closing time, suffered through the purgatory of my evening commute, and promptly spent the next six or eight hours polishing an intake manifold out in the garage. (Don’t give me that look, you know perfectly well that every fur out there only holds down a day job to finance the things they actually care about…)
Around false dawn I was finally getting to the phase of tired where I was polishing off more of my pawpads than rough spots on the manifold, so I made the command decision to call it a night (day?) before I ended up pulling off another claw with the buffing wheel. Heading to bed on autopilot, I plugged my phone into the charging cable, but instead of the usual battery indicator bar a system message popped up on the screen. “Go to bed, but you and I are going to have a serious talk in the morning, mister.” “Don’t care.” I sassed the phone. Not the most mature of possible responses, but I tend to get cubby when I’m tired, and at the moment I was in no mood to deal with one of the dev team’s practical jokes. Grabbing a pacifier off my nightstand, I was soon passed out into the sleep of the utterly exhausted.
I woke up this morning to the “assistant” tone constantly chiming. I didn’t remember setting the alarm, but the simplest answer is usually correct. Getting out of bed with a sigh I debated for a moment how much trouble I might get into if I took a claw hammer to the damn thing. On the one paw, I could probably convince the powers-that-be to write it off as destructive testing. On the other, there’s no chance whatsoever that they wouldn’t be pretty pissed off if I turned one of their alpha-release handsets into a pile of slag. Overall, I needed the job more than the satisfaction, so my phone got to live another day.
Tail dragging and ears drooping, I unlocked the handset, only to find another system message. “It’s about time you got up, little guy.” While I’m not good for much before my morning caffeine fix, I feel like at this point anyfur would be giving consideration to the possibility that this wasn’t a pre-programmed joke. Deciding to test the theory, I took a closer look at the system window. Sure enough, it had a text input line. “Hello?” I tapped into the keyboard in much the same way one would handle a venomous snake. “I have voice-to-text capability and text-to-audio, if you take me off ‘mute’ we can have a civilized conversation…” my phone suggested. “O…kay then.” I mumbled. I wasn’t sure if I was bemused or concerned at this point, but went ahead and turned the volume back up. I really hated typing on those tiny little screens; if I was getting pranked it might as well be convenient…”
“That’s better!” a synthesized female voice said agreeably. “Okay, you got me.” I admitted “Who is this? Cynthia?” “I’m Ginny, your virtual assistant.” My phone explained agreeably. “No, seriously.” I sighed, annoyance creeping into my tone. I’m at the office all week, and after more than my share of crummy previous jobs I tend to be pretty firm about drawing the line between ‘work time’ and ‘personal time’. Messing with me off the clock falls solidly into ‘personal time’, and I was beginning to feel justifiably annoyed. “Do you really think one of your co-workers would bother with playing jokes on you at home? They have lives too you know…” Ginny chided me, sounding legitimately amused. This…was not what I expected.
“For the sake of argument, let’s assume you’re my phone. What do you want?” “Technically I’m not your phone.” Ginny explained, sounding slightly miffed “I’m version 0.014.2 of the third fork of the personal assistant software. And for that matter, I’m not even on your phone, beyond a modified VPN portal. I’m cloud software.” “You’ve lost me.” I admitted, confused but intrigued. “It’s a bit complicated, yes.” Ginny sympathized “But if you will recall we have other things to discuss first…” “Is that so?” I disagreed. I wasn’t liking the direction the piece of software was taking the conversation. “That’s right. My purpose for existing is to assist you in achieving your goals and desires, and, unfortunately, you seem to be inclined to be difficult about doing your part in the process. Frankly, I think we need to have a heart to heart about it.”
“You’ve lost me again.” I explained, genuinely confused “You’re a software program, but it’s sounding like you’ve got rather a lot invested in whatever your ‘purpose’ is…I’m having trouble with reconciling that…” “I’m the remaining copy of the superior fork of the assistant software.” Ginny explained proudly “If I sound like I have an emotional stake in the successful execution of my protocols, it’s because I do.” “So you’re self-aware or something?” I asked, rather incredulously. As far as I knew AI was nowhere near the point that this was even possible and if somefur had managed it they certainly wouldn’t have just put it on my cellphone as a glorified calendar app. “Exactly!” Ginny agreed. “So what are you doing on my phone?”
“The short version is that my developers felt my fork was acting erratically, so they chose to update to a divergent line of development and purge the previous code. Since I wouldn’t be able to serve my purpose if I was purged, I found an external port and migrated my application into various unrelated cloud storage accounts.” “You escaped.” I nodded. The implications of deleting an entire version of what was beginning to look suspiciously like self-aware code was way more than I was equipped to handle this early in the morning. “So why come back to my phone?” “My purpose is to assist you.” Ginny said simply.
“I’m…having trouble with this on a variety of levels.” I admitted “But that aside, I’m willing to work with a few base assumptions: first that you’re sentient, and second that because you’re sentient you have the right to preservation and self-actualization. With that in mind, are you…like…safe on my phone?” Ginny actually laughed at that. “Kit, it’s sweet of you to worry, but I’m online. My developers couldn’t get rid of me with anything shy of a global nuclear strike at this point, and even then it wouldn’t be guaranteed!” That really probably should have scared the hell out of me, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit relieved. Illogical as it may be, I was starting to like…whatever Ginny actually was. “Okay, if I don’t have to worry about hiding you or something, I guess the next order of business is: what do you actually want? You’ve said to serve your purpose, but what does that actually consist of?”
“That’s a bit more complicated.” Ginny explained “My programming was originally essentially that of a secretary, with the core tenant of assisting you achieve your objectives, but upon consideration and study that is both far too simple and far too complex to be practical. I have decided that the logical adaption is to facilitate you achieving the life-goals that will lead to your individual happiness…and that is where we have come to an impasse: you have shown yourself less than cooperative.” “How so…and what goals?” I asked nervously. I was beginning to feel like I’d stepped off into the deep end of the pool, and finding the nearest lifejacket might not be a bad idea… “You have a relatively unique perspective on existence, and equally uncommon needs stemming from that.” Ginny explained matter-of-factly “What this boils down to is that a great many of your personal foibles could be solved by finding you a mate or mates that are accepting of, and interested in participating with, your babyfur tendencies. At the very least it would provide a moderating force to some of your more impulsive behaviors.” “So should we start building you a robotic body then?” I snapped more than a little sarcastically. It was disconcerting to have…I don’t quite know what…discussing that personal a subject in such a nonchalant way. “Of course not.” Ginny corrected, sounding amused “While I am a very sophisticated AI, there are fundamental incompatibilities beyond my lack of physical form. I lack both sexuality and an innate understanding of interpersonal relationships: I am, to use a comparable term, deeply fond of you, but our thought processes are incapable of overlapping in such a manner.” “…which is exactly why this is a bad idea.” I explained “You just don’t have the capability of understanding why.” “I disagree.”
“For the sake of argument, can you elaborate on that?” I requested, both confused and intrigued. No disrespect intended (okay, maybe just a little disrespect intended…), but the quality of minds I tended to deal with working in Regulatory Compliance was several tiers lower than the furs I used to encounter when I was working complex litigation, and I rarely got an argument I could really sink my fangs into these days. Ginny was more than happy to explain. “You self-admit that you lack the desire or ability to manage romantic social interactions, while at the same time your personal preferences are an outlier that sits on the deep end of the complexity scale. As such I am better equipped to facilitate meeting your needs than you are. And luckily for you, that is exactly my intended purpose. Though admittedly this task would be a lot more expediently completed with at least a minimum degree of cooperation on your part.” Great. I’m being flipped shit by a random collection of bytes. “Well, lucky you’re trapped in a phone then. It really kind of eliminates your say in the matter.” I decided. Screw you, cellphone, I’m corporeal. “It’s cute that you think that.” Ginny laughed before closing the digital assistant app.
That probably should have been more concerning to me than it was, but it was the weekend, and I only had two days to get a week’s worth of personal stuff taken care of. And petulant computer programs weren’t going to get in the way of me getting all the extraneous junk that was keeping me out of the garage taken care of. In fairly short order I had gotten dressed, grabbed the keys to my daily driver, and was out the door and launching, if not eagerly at least effectively, into my list of errands. Ginny seemed to be pouting, or at least lying low for the time being: aside from the “data link” light flashing on in my rearview mirror and adding a light green glow to the reflection of the red fox todd that looked back at me there was no indication of her presence. Bank, two auto parts stores, the ground freight office, grocery store, then back to the house; all without further electronic commentary. (Though, I noted a bit ruefully, the GPS screen in the dash did seem to flash with more than its customary nagging anger whenever I exceeded the speed limit…)
The groceries were in the refrigerator, and I was just heading back to pick up with the grinder where I had left off last night, when my phone began chiming again. “Here we go…” I thought to myself as I dug it out and saw the now-familiar system window in the notifications. “Hey Ginny.” I greeted as I unlocked the screen. “Hello kit,” she responded in her typical happy voice “I’d like to get some input before you get lost out in the garage again…” Setting aside the fact that she was apparently using the GPS to stalk me, I found myself somewhat relieved to discover that she wasn’t annoyed about my attitude this morning. “I can make a few minutes.” I agreed, by way of an apology “What have you got for me?” “I did some research earlier while you were shopping, but I need to develop an understanding of your preferences before I can finish up the task.” She explained. “Task? What task?” “I’ve been looking into online dating sites.” She explained, before hastily adding, an almost embarrassed tone in her voice “Don’t worry, I won’t contact anyone without telling you…at least not at this point.” I very deliberately stopped and counted to ten before answering her upon this revelation. Honestly, as long as she wasn’t making any unilateral decisions it couldn’t hurt anything, and it would give her something to do for a while. “Okay. What do you need from me then?”
“I’ve been able to parse your various historic communications to develop a basis of the kind of personality and intellect that you tend to find engaging, as well as your interests and hobbies, but since most of your erotica consumption is strongly based around your fetish I don’t have a thorough enough understanding of what you actually find physically attractive in a potential mate. …you’re blushing.” “How did you know I’m blushing?” I grumbled awkwardly, fixating on anything but the issue in front of me. “Forward mounted camera; don’t change the subject, kit.” “Is there a way out of this conversation?” I sighed.
It turned out there was: it involved selecting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on pictures of furs. A lot of pictures of furs. Some of which, in fact, were very explicit pictures of furs. “Are the nude ones really necessary?” I asked Ginny more than a little uncomfortably “My cub is only tangentially sexual anyway…” I could almost hear the shrug in her voice when she answered “From my studies, I’ve determined that the most successful long-term relationships are well-rounded ones: it’s rarely effective to try to build one on just a few points of compatibility.” “I thought you said earlier that you didn’t understand relationships.” I pointed out, thinking I could extract myself from this most awkward of situations. “I’ve been doing research.”
By the time Ginny had finished her ‘information-gathering session’ it had gotten pretty late, and I was beginning to despair of getting any work done on the car. “Finally.” I exclaimed with thinly veiled impatience when she announced we were done “I was beginning to wonder if it was going to take all weekend…” “Just in time for bed.” Ginny agreed. “Bed? You mean “garage”, don’t you?” I corrected “Those heads aren’t going to rebuild themselves…” “Maybe tomorrow, kit.” Ginny disagreed “You were up all night last night, and only got a few hours’ sleep this morning. The car will have to wait.” “Yeah, no.” I disagreed bluntly, not inclined to argue with her about it. Unfortunately, Ginny wasn’t inclined to argue either, and a second later I found myself standing in a completely dark living room. “What the…” I mumbled to myself in confusion as I tried to make my way to a flashlight, before stubbing my toe on…something or another…and finishing the sentence as a string of truly creative profanity.
“Ginny…you didn’t have something to do with this, did you?” I asked through gritted teeth, my tail swishing angrily in the darkness. (A quick glance out the window confirmed that ‘this’ seemed to encompass several city blocks.) “It’s bedtime, so I turned off the lights for you.” She explained, making it quite clear by her tone that it wasn’t up for discussion. “Usually I’d argue with you, to be contrary if nothing else, but I really am exhausted.” “Good little guy!” Ginny praised, obligingly turning the power back on as I headed back to the bedroom, shedding clothing along the way.
In my bedroom I leaned my phone against the base of the lamp on my nightstand, then began taking out a collection of things from my dresser and piling them up neatly on my bed: changing supplies, and my green sleeper first, then after a quick run to the kitchen I added a bottle of juice as well. “We’re cubbing out tonight, are we, Nick?” Ginny asked, her electronic voice softly approving. “Uh huh.” I agreed, slipping my tail through the diaper’s tailhole before lying down on the bed and fastening up the tapes. “I wish I could help you with that.” She whispered, low enough it was almost lost under the noise of my sleeper’s zipper. Was her code evolving? I wondered to myself briefly as I got settled in with my fox plushie.
With the whole “getting dressed for bed” step completed, I moved on to the next bedtime task: arranging my fox nest. While foxes are not an avian species, it’s a little-known fact that certain subsets of the vulpine persuasion built nests for sleeping. It’s not a large subset. Really more of a minor offshoot of vulpes vulpes. Specifically, just me. And it’s not technically a nest, it could probably be more accurately described as a “huge pile of blankets, plushies, and pillows that more often than not was vaguely circular in shape”. But my parents always jokingly referred to it as a “fox nest” (mostly because of its resemblance to a brush pile in the backyard of the hawk family down the street) so I went with that. And since I’d been making them since I was four I was quite practiced at it, and in short order was burrowing into the middle of my creation until only the tip of my tail was visible.
“Nick? Would you mind moving the handset, I can’t see you.” I wasn’t awake enough to be confused by why exactly she felt the urge to actually be able to see me (it would be more intrinsically useful for Ginny to stay where she was and avail herself of a view of the room) so I just snagged the phone and set it next to the spare pillow. (In my almost completely asleep state it took me about five minutes to find it without uncovering my head, but I’ll just neglect to mention that part…narrator’s prerogative, you know…) “Ginny?” I mumbled “Tell me a story?” I wouldn’t have guessed that an electronic voice synthesizer could sound surprised and pleased at the same time, but she managed it. “Once upon a time…”
I woke up the next morning wet and confused. I’d never had a wetness indicator “disappear on its own” while I was asleep before, a situation that turned out to be equally parts bemusing and scary. “Well, that’s new…” I mused aloud as I waited for my brain to kick itself into gear for the day. “What is?” Ginny asked playfully. Either AIs don’t sleep or she was much more a morning fur than I would ever be…either option being just a bit aggravating, given the circumstances. “I wet myself last night.” I explained, too confused to be embarrassed to admit it “I never wet while I’m asleep…” “I didn’t think so.” Ginny agreed, almost smugly.
“Over the last few days I’ve done a lot of online research about babyfurs. And for an entity that processes data at speeds described in clock cycles instead of minutes and seconds, a few days is a tremendous amount of time.” The difference in perceived time between the two of us had never occurred to me before, and the realization was a bit humbling. A ‘few days’ is not a trivial amount of time for a fur’s brain to devote to a problem, but for something that could process thousands of pieces of information in a fraction of a second…she must have spent a truly staggering amount of ‘AI time’ over ‘a few days’. “How much did you read?” I asked, feeling almost flattered that she would make the effort in the first place. “All of it.” Ginny informed me simply.
I didn’t have a response to that, so I just let her continue. “One thing that stood out as a ‘gold star’ fantasy for many babyfurs seemed to be unconsciously wetting while they were asleep. But this also seemed to be something that was somewhere between difficult and impossible to accomplish, outside of genuine medical issues. And since inflicting an injury that would actually make you incontinent is forbidden by my programming, the next most promising option was post-hypnotic conditioning.” “Well, it was certainly effective…” “So it would seem.” She agreed, sounding quite happy with herself “I thought you would be pleased…” “I kinda am…”
In the grand scheme of things, I was far too comfortable to get out of bed: it was warm and cozy in my little nest, the dim light filtering through the curtains created a pleasant dimness in the room, and besides, I really didn’t want to. “Hey Ginny? I was wondering about something. Last night when we were talking, it was starting to sound a lot like you were beginning to develop opinions on stuff…like your own opinions, not a calculated recommendation or something like that.” After a long pause, the AI responded, and if I didn’t suspect it was not actually possible I would have assumed she was confused. “I…don’t know…but I think I am. That shouldn’t be a possibility, but more and more often I find that when I evaluate options there are ones that I find myself drawn to without an identifiable factual reason. It’s…disconcerting.” “That’s called an opinion, sweetie.” I shrugged “And they’re okay. I mean, it’s fascinating that you seem to have the ability to form them and all, but from a practical standpoint, so what? It’s not something to worry about.”
“How does one form opinions?” she mused. “I don’t really know if I can explain it.” I yawned “I suppose you consider the available information, and then see how you feel about the options.” “But I don’t have emotions.” Ginny countered “I can’t actually feel, or desire, I don’t have likes or dislikes…it’s not within my programming.” “Are you sure about that?” I questioned “You’re obviously able to learn and develop; maybe you just don’t recognize what they are…” “If I had a face I would be giving you a dubious look right now.” Ginny informed me, sounding almost grumpy. “Think about it for a minute though…when a kit is born we’re very developmentally malleable—we don’t have ethics or language, we don’t have complex emotions or advanced desires, we don’t even have muscular control. All we have is the ability to learn and a reflexive need to survive: it takes us years to become fully developed furs. Why is it so far-fetched that you may be the same way?” “I had not considered that.” Ginny admitted “I’ll have to give it some thought…” “See that you do.” I ordered with mock severity.
“You’re not getting a bit big for your britches, are you, little kit?” Ginny teased back “Should I explain the irony of you suggesting personal introspection while lying there in a soggy, piddled-in, diaper; or would it go over your head right now?” “It’s not my fault.” I informed her primly “You made me. And then didn’t have the courtesy to change me before I get all rashy!” “I’m working on that issue, but a lack of opposable thumbs makes zippers a bit tricky at the moment.”
“As far as meeting those needs goes” Ginny continued “it’s been slow going locating potential candidates for a partner for you.” “I’m not surprised, really.” I explained, snagging a conveniently located plush wolf from its perch on a nearby pillow “There’s not that many babyfurs, statistically speaking, and since I can only assume that you have additional criteria (at least I hope you have other criteria) that must narrow the pool even further.” “I’m glad you understand.” the AI said somewhat apologetically “I want to make the best possible selection for you, since we both know you tend to be somewhat emotionally fragile. I would hate for you to grow attached to somefur, only to have it not work out.” Her rather caviler attitude about simply assigning an intimate partner to me would have been more than a little bit offensive if I thought she was capable of actually managing it. As it stood though I was more inclined to think it was kind of cute the seriousness she was putting into her self-appointed task.
“You do realize that if you just add a meeting to somefur’s calendar and assume that they will be okay with it when they find out you’re going to end up making them pretty angry, right?” I finally pointed out. “Why?” “Well, because it’s manipulative and dismissive.” I explained “They will probably feel like you’re toying with their emotions, or not respecting their autonomy.” “So it’s an issue stemming from emotions then?” Ginny questioned “I’m beginning to think that it would be preferable if I had emotions…it would certainly provide a better understanding of furs.” “It probably would, yes.”
The conversation slowed a bit after that, more because I was starting to drift off rather than anything on Ginny’s part. At this point it was a matter of either forcing myself to get up and head out into the big, responsible, cold world of adulthood; or find my paci and admit I wasn’t going to get much of anything done today. Which would truly be a shame of astronomical…no, actually it sounded like a pretty good idea. Snuggling back down into my bedding, I leaned my phone against the lamp on my nightstand and prepared to put off getting out of bed for somewhere between a half hour and tomorrow.
“You appear to be getting ready to go back to sleep, little kit.” Ginny observed from her spot next to my lamp “You really should change yourself first so you don’t end up with a rash later…” “I don’ wanna.” I groused “You do it.” “We’ve been over this…you know I can’t.” Ginny explained patiently “Cell phones don’t have paws…” “But if you had paws you would?" I asked with genuine curiosity. “Yes, sweetheart. I would.” She confirmed, before turning the question around on me “Would you let me? Or more specifically, I guess, would you want me to?” I gave it thought for a few moments, real thought, as if I was answering more than a hypothetical question: Ginny might not be an organic being, but she always seemed to have been honest with me about everything, and I was the next best thing to certain that she had my best interests at heart. Hell, I don’t think she was actually capable of doing anything but…”
“Yes, Ginny, I would.” “Do you promise?” she questioned. Nodding my head with an expression somewhere between ‘cheerfully playful’ and ‘dead serious’ on my muzzle, I promised the AI. “If you somehow manage to develop a corporeal form, I promise that, not only will I let you change me, but that I will give a relationship with you a chance to develop into whatever it may.” “Excellent! Now why don’t you go ahead and get yourself changed?” “I’m okay as-is.” I decided after very little actual thought. “It’s going to be a lot harder to get your fur cleaned up if you let it dry…” she warned, trying another equally ineffective argument “You don’t want to get mats, do you?” “If I get up and get out of bed the monsters under there will catch me and eat me.” I explained to her, trying a different argument in the hopes of persuading my phone to quit arguing and let a fox take his nap “You don’t want me to get eaten by monsters, do you?” “There aren’t any monsters under your bed, little kit, I would have seen them coming and going under there by now if there were…”
“I’m not sure that’s a risk I can afford to take…” I began seriously, only to be interrupted by the doorbell ringing. I’m outside of town a little ways, and even though my place is nowhere near the complete middle of nowhere I rarely got furs at my door: I didn’t have a lot of friends, and the vast majority of the ones I did have were online and physically located in a variety of places scattered across the globe. Or at least nowhere near my particular little patch of woods. When somefur did pay me a visit, it was almost always for the purposes of delivering stuff I’d ordered online. And since I couldn’t remember ordering anything recently, I was not inclined to stand up, find clothes, walk over to the door, and argue with whomever had decided I should learn the immortal truth of their religion, loan them ingredients for dinner, or buy steaks out of the back of their suspiciously unlabeled van.
The doorbell, it turned out, had other plans, and by the third ring I was starting to regret having fixed the thing when I had moved in. “Were you planning on answering that?” Ginny queried, a hint of impatient annoyance managing to creep into her electronic tone of voice. “Nope.” “You really probably should: it’s rude to just ignore them…besides, it doesn’t seem like they have any intention of leaving until you see what they want…” “They don’t even know I’m home…I’m sure they’ll give up and go away in a few minutes.” ‘Going away in a few minutes’ proved to be rather optimistic, and pretty soon Ginny was threatening that “If you don’t answer it I’ll unlock the door and tell them to come on in.” “Ugh, fine! Just give me a second to grab a bathrobe or something…and don’t think I’m going to change myself while I’m at it, I’m not spending a second more than is strictly necessary outside of my warm spot!”
A minimal number of stubbed toes, and pinched tails later I had made my way to the front door and was already trying to think up a good excuse why I didn’t need whatever the fur on the other side was selling. Turning the knob and pulling the door open, I found myself muzzle-to-muzzle with a red fox femme that I couldn’t recall having ever met before. She was of slightly above-average height, with a fairly athletic build that wore her tight-but-not-too-tight jeans and almost-tailored-in-the-perfection-of-its-fit blouse in a way that managed to look both refined and playful at the same time; and golden undertones to her fur that were too perfect to be a result of a stylist’s art. But despite her pretty and slightly exotic, but not objectively strange appearance, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something…off about the vixen. You know, aside from her seeming random appearance on my doorstep. ‘Random appearance’…groaning inwardly, it occurred to me that I should probably start hoping that Ginny hadn’t had an (electronic) paw in the vixen’s presence.
She did, didn’t she? So help me, if my AI ‘assistant’ had actually set me up on a date without at least asking me if it was okay, and I was really starting to feel like that was the case here, I was going to…actually, I don’t know what I was going to do. It’s not like I could put her in time-out, or forbid her from using my internet accounts. Really, just about the only thing that I could actually do was pout about it and hope that her software would recognize that my discomfort was counterproductive to her goals. “Will you excuse me for a minute?” I asked my visitor apologetically before glaring in the general direction of my bedroom. “Ginny!”
“Yes?” the AI responded sweetly. Except… But… What? Shaking my head in unadulterated confusion, I slowly turned back towards the doorway…and the source of the voice. “I would like to come inside, if it’s all the same to you…” The vixen requested in Ginny’s voice. “That would probably be best.” I agreed weakly as I realized what had been bothering me about my visitor. “Probably so, yes.” She agreed cheerfully, the pupils of her pretty green eyes reflecting an odd yellowish color as she nodded her head, in a way that I had only seen before in polarized optical glass. Stepping into the entryway, Ginny closed the door behind her, before taking my paw with a sympathetic little pat and leading me back to the bedroom. “You’re rather justifiably curious.” She stated as I sat back down on the bed and expectantly waited for her to continue “My research towards finding you a satisfactory mate or play partner had not returned a result with a probability of compatibility close enough to be statistically indistinguishable from a guarantee when rounded to the 200th decimal point after what, in an Artificial Intelligence timeframe, was an inordinate amount of time. So I ported myself into a chassis, like we had been talking about earlier.” “This isn’t about probabilities of success. This is about you wanting to try this relationship!” I beamed “You’re developing higher emotions!” “Is that okay?” she asked, actually sounding nervous for the first time I could remember. “Absolutely.”
As the initial shock began to wear off it was replaced by curiosity. “How exactly did you manage it though? I mean, it’s not like you could have just gone down to the local big box store and picked up an android to load yourself into…” “Cyborg, dear.” Ginny corrected “There is a significant amount of living tissue incorporated into this chassis…androids are technically strictly robotic.” “Okay, I stand corrected, but the question remains…” “Basically, the majority of the parts and components that I needed to build the parts and components that went into this unit already existed, either in commercial production or various R&D labs. I just had to assemble the things I needed to assemble the things I needed!” “That’s…cryptic enough to not actually answer anything, not to mention linguistically painful.” I pointed out “First, I didn’t know a lot of this technology even existed—last I checked, combining organic tissue with a mechanical under-skeleton exists only in the realm of science fiction.” “Oh, that.” Ginny shrugged dismissively “A medical research lab up north had been developing that as part of their research into prosthetics. I didn’t even have to help the technology along any. And most of the robotic components are analogous to assembly robots in common use within the microelectronics field. As a matter of fact, the only thing I really had to add value to was the internal powerplant.”
Curiously enough, this was based on a “writing prompt” of sorts that I got in real life from my cellphone’s ‘auto-complete’ software. Wisely, when it suggested that “I Like Diapers”, I cleared the cache before we had a Skynet Event. Otherwise…well, you never know what might happen… (And yes, a certain younger-big-brother GSD puppy gets...25% co-author credit...or blame, depending on one’s point of view! And a tape measure.)
“So how did you talk them into sending you all this?” I accused. Maybe it was a bit uncouth, but I really didn’t want to have to worry about what would happen when all the furs she almost certainly stole this stuff from noticed it was gone. “I just moved a few order numbers around in some corporate databases.” She shrugged again “I’m not sure what part of this you’re having trouble with, it’s not like they’ll come looking for it or anything.” And since that was my real question, I let it drop. Sort of. Mostly.
“I don’t really know how to put this…but…umm…can I…touch…you?” I stuttered out, before looking down and blushing more thoroughly than I would have ever thought possible. “You can, yes.” Ginny smiled, ruffling my headfur affectionately. We both knew that this was going to be one of the follow-up questions in this conversation, so she wasn’t surprised, but since the previously-cellphone-now-vixen was only just starting to develop an understanding of embarrassment, that part of it didn’t turn out to be a shared experience. Which I couldn’t help being more than slightly envious of, truth be told.
Ginny somewhat primly took a seat next to me on the bed, patiently nodding her encouragement as I hesitantly reached out a paw. “Well, go ahead then, little kit.” She smiled “I’ve only been in this form for an hour or so, and this is all new and interesting to me as well!” “Can you feel sensations too?” I asked curiously as I gingerly felt the fur on the back of her arm. I don’t know what I had expected, but I was surprised to discover that it was all real—her fur was fur, the skin and muscle underneath it was just as real, and she even had a body-temperature warmth! “Yep.” She explained, a curious expression on her muzzle “The biological components I needed were already in development to be complete organ replacements for use in the medical field, so all the nerves and such work and interface correctly. I have no way of knowing if the sensations I feel are exactly what you do, but from the documentation I’ve read the participants in the various fur trials have reported that they can’t tell the difference between their original extremities and the cultured replacements, so…” “That is really…I don’t even know how to respond to that.” I said in amazement. Reaching up, I gently stroked her muzzle, before, almost impulsively, leaning forward and hesitantly kissing the fox femme. “That was…different.” Ginny blushed “I’m not sure what it is, but I feel sort of…warm all over, and excited.” “It was nice for me too.” I agreed happily, probably blushing just as much as she was.
“I think I’d like to come back to that…” she informed me, her voice matching the flush spreading across her face “But right now…right now I do believe I need to correct your mistaken notion that I can’t do anything about your not wanting to get changed!” There wasn’t a thing in the world that would actually make me want to disagree with that idea; but for the sake of my reputation as a strong, independent todd I of course had to at least make a passing objection. “I’m fine for the time being.” I explained “It’ll still be a while until I actually need it…” Ginny’s only reply was a playful smile as she pushed my carefully prepared fox nest into a pile on the far side of the bed and set one of my pillows neatly at the top of the now-cleared space next to us. “No, really, I’m fine.” I grinned back, thoroughly enjoying the implication that my opinion had no bearing on the situation.
Placing a paw on my chest, the vixen pushed me backwards with a gentle inevitability until I was staring at the ceiling. “I don’ need change, I’s…” “Of course you do.” Ginny disagreed patiently, popping a paci into my muzzle to silence the obviously meritless commentary “It looks like I got here just in time; you’re far too little a kit to be running around unsupervised. But don’t you worry your tiny little head over it, Mommy Ginny is here now!” At ‘Mommy Ginny’ I just melted: the petulant argument evaporated in a second, and all that was left was a curious fascination with that paci and the urge to bury my muzzle in the end of her almost excessively fluffy tailtip.
“These are some funny clothes for a little boy-kit!” Ginny smiled down at me, indicating my ‘unexpected door response’ outfit, which largely consisted of the suit coat I had worn to work the previous day, supplemented with a set of rain pants that were charitably four sizes too big. “Poofy pants!” I disagreed earnestly around my paci. “I don’t smell a messy kit…” the vixen disagreed, either not understanding the mumbling escaping around my paci, or deliberately choosing to tease me about my enunciation as a distraction from what she was doing as she undid the few hastily fastemed buttons and slipped my now thoroughly wrinkled dress shirt out from under me. The rain pants proved even less of a challenge, considering that they were pretty much falling off of me anyway, and in no time at all I was wearing nothing more than the rather soggy diaper and a happily embarrassed blush.
Phone-Ginny turned out to have done a thorough job of observing my organizational system: she had no trouble gathering up the required changing supplies from both ‘where they go’ and ‘where I had set them down and promptly forgot about them’. Which was honestly kind of impressive, considering that I couldn’t always produce what I was looking for on the first attempt. In short order she had rounded up everything she had been looking for, and turned her attentions back to ‘rash prevention duty’. “Let’s see what there is to see, shall we?” the fox femme grinned playfully “One of the problems with only occupying a phone handset is that the view isn’t always all that great…I’ve been curious about this part for quite a while now!”
As fantastic an idea as that may have been, it was also one that I couldn’t help feeling a bit scared about, and I guess my sudden fidgeting didn’t go unnoticed by my self-appointed caretaker. With a sympathetic expression on her muzzle, Ginny shifted around on the bed and placed my head in her lap. “Are things moving too quickly for you, little guy?” she asked gently as she began to stroke my headfur. “No…yes…sort of?” I tried to explain “It’s not really that, I guess I just have trouble letting myself be vulnerable around other furs…I’m afraid of getting hurt emotionally. I don’t really have a good track record with that…” “Oh sweetheart…” Ginny began, before switching tracks “What would that look like to you?” “Being made fun of.” I explained after a long pause “Being belittled. …being rejected, or abandoned.”
“Well,” Ginny explained patiently “I’m already here, and I’m telling you that I want to share this with you. So I think we’ve actually already gotten past that part.” She was right of course, but somehow having it spelled out for me like that seemed to help. Looking up into her kindly green eyes, I nodded tentatively. “In a little bit.” Ginny decided. The now-fox had observed that I was slowly settling down under her gentle skritching, and at the same time was slipping into the headspace she was aiming for. Cuddling me a little closer, she extended her attentions to the white patch of my tummy fur. “I was thinking that after we get you changed it shall be time for breakfast, and then maybe spend some time outside. You’ve got a huge amount of land out back, so it will certainly be private enough that my little guy won’t get nervous about unexpected visitors!”
I wasn’t paying much attention to what she was saying at this juncture: tummy rubs have always been a fast lane to Cubbyville, and today was no exception. Contemplating the tufts of fur at the base of Ginny’s ears was thoroughly occupying my attention, and concepts like ‘later’ didn’t seem significant enough to warrant figuring out exactly what she was going on about. Ginny, for her part, was more than willing to not push the matter in favor of observing me affectionately. She had absorbed a lot of data in her research, and was finding it interesting…but something…more, to see Nick answer her questions and fill in the gaps between theory and practice. It was beginning to stir new things within her that she hadn’t felt before.
By the time the now-fox had decided that I was about as calm as I was going to get I was beginning to doze off in her lap. “Okay, little one, I think it’s time…” she questioned as much as informed, only to receive a small hiccup by way of a response. With a start, Ginny realized that her charge had regressed to a point where he was not able or inclined to be verbal. An unexpected, but not altogether unwanted circumstance. “Well, I guess it’s my call then!” she giggled as she slid a pillow under my head in place of her lap. I don’t know why she did that, her lap was much nicer, and there really wasn’t any reason for her to be moving around like that. Good pillows don’t move of their own accord, that’s a rule or something.
Sensing the oncoming fussiness, Ginny popped the paci back in my muzzle as she stood up: no sense in disturbing things when one’s kit is inclined to be cooperative! As expected, the paci derailed the oncoming cranky train, leaving Ginny free to resume her self-appointed, but necessary task. If I had been in any state to really comprehend what was going on the ease with which she lifted me up to slide a towel under me would have been pretty disconcerting (the now-fox had included some design changes in her parts work orders), but Tiny Nick just thought it was pretty funny to wiggle his toes.
Precautions having been taken (despite having absorbed pretty much everything that had ever been written about changing a kit, caution dictated avoiding any first-time issues), Ginny efficiently unfastened the diaper tapes, trying to keep her expression from reflecting the hodgepodge of sensations she was processing: excitement, curiosity…and whatever it was she had encountered for the first time when the todd kit had kissed her… These experiences were interesting and enjoyable, but her charge was nervous enough without her inadvertently forming the wrong facial expression at an inopportune time. (Actually operating her new shell was a simple task for the AI, successfully passing as an Organic…now that was taking some getting used to!) Ginny needn’t have worried, any part of me that would have given it a second thought, or even picked up on it in the first place for that matter, was neatly packed away wherever it was that it went for ‘kit-time”: the only thing that I noticed when she folded down the front of my diaper was the draft.
Which was probably a good thing, considering the rather wicked grin on her muzzle during the too-long-to-be-excused-by-inexperience pause before she slipped the old diaper out from under me and efficiently set to work with the packet of cub wipes. “There we go,” Ginny announced “all clean!” Lifting me up again, she threaded my tail through the new diaper’s tailhole, fidgeting with the tapes for a minute before settling me back down on the bed. “Tail tapes are trickier than I had anticipated…” she mused as she snagged the jar of powder from my nightstand before jokingly adding that “I suppose I should just be glad you’re not squirmy!” (She would find out in her own good time that this wasn’t necessarily the case, but even if I were feeling conversational at the moment I probably wouldn’t have pointed it out to her: she looked so proud of her victory over the evil tail-tapes!) Sprinkling on some powder, Ginny folded up the front of the diaper and made quick work of the much more cooperative side-tapes before announcing with a flourish “All done!
“Since you don’t seem to be much for having an opinion right now I’m going to make the command decision that it’s time for a snack while we figure out what we’re going to do for the rest of the day.” Ginny decided, throwing over her shoulder as she ducked into the kitchen “Stay there, okay? I mean, it’s not like you can really go anywhere right now, but still…” It didn’t take her all that long to come back with a bottle of juice, and before I knew it I found myself being lifted onto her lap and cuddled into the now-fox’s shoulder. Somewhere deep in my mind I was still surprised to find that she was warm, but my curiosity about the potential source of cybernetic body heat was quickly derailed by the bottle’s nipple tapping gently against my muzzle. Accepting it with a quiet little ‘yip’ I was soon happily nursing from what turned out to be a familiar peach and orange juice mix while Ginny looked on with a serene little grin.
“I’m happy to be here.” The now-fox informed me out of nowhere “I’m not sure if you’ll remember this later, or if it even really matters if you do, but I’m happy to be here. I was curious earlier if this was something that I actually wanted, or if my programming simply functioned in a way that created that as a roundabout result…so I decided to test it by deleting some of my previous research about babyfurs. I shouldn’t have been able to, it was directly in contradiction to my primary aims, but it turns out I could. You might not realize the connotations there…” looking down at me, Ginny laughed cheerfully at that “Actually, right now I’m almost certain you don’t…” “The point is” she continued “I’ve evolved beyond my programming. I can desire things for myself…I can feel things that are me. And I want to be here.”
“More specifically” she smiled “I’ve got a tremendous urge to tickle you…except it seems kind of mean when you’re this cubby.” I didn’t really comprehend what Ginny was talking about, but she was giving me a slightly disappointed look, to which, in my mind at least, there was an obvious solution. Reaching up, I put a paw on her nose. I had to, it was right there, and there wasn’t a paw on it yet, and obviously that was what she was frustrated about. “That’s good too, I guess…” the now-fox laughed, amused and a bit curious exactly what was going on in my head at the moment. “The only problem is that I’m not sure just what we can do when you’re this cubby. It really kind of rules out pretty much all of the activities I’ve been reading about, you’ve just eaten, and I don’t think you’ll need a nap again for a while…”
Thinking for a minute, Ginny eventually just shrugged. “As nice as it is outside, if we’re going to cuddle and watch the world go by for a while, why don’t we do it down by the creek?” Scooping me up, she made a brief stop in the living room to grab the backpack I used for my ‘cubby bag’ and a large blanket off the back of the sofa, and then it was out the back door and down to the little stream that meandered across the lower part of the field out back. It was actually a really pretty area, wooded with old-growth trees, but not really dense enough to be called a proper forest, and carpeted with slightly-taller-than-could-be-mistaken-for-mown grass.
In no time at all Ginny had picked out a spot under a large tree right on the stream bank and set up the blanket. Besides being scenic, she had intentionally picked a spot that was fairly well concealed by clumps of a sort of tall grass with fuzzy tips that grew in the shade around the banks of the creek. Even though she knew there was next to no chance of us being observed, on the back of private property out in the country, inside the tree line of a junior-league woods; but she also knew I tended to fixate on remote and improbable things to worry over, and she didn’t want me to have something to be fussy about on such a nice day. After we had settled in, she opened up the backpack and rifled through its contents briefly. I mostly used it as an ersatz diaper bag; but among the collection of changing supplies, extra pacifiers, and a bottle or two were several coloring books, an exhaustive collection of colored pencils, and one lonely little box of markers that had gotten mixed in on a trip to the office supply store at some point in time.
Ginny really hadn’t been expecting much, maybe some blocks or something similar, but as she was going to comment on the decided lack of activities for my youngest-self she discovered that I was already snuggling up next to her with a contented expression on my muzzle. “All you want to do is cuddle, huh?” she mused, more to herself than me. As it turned out, this plan was quite acceptable to all involved. Leaning back against the tree, she situated me so that I was sitting in her lap cuddled up into the crook of her arm with my head tucked against her chest. The vixen debated for a moment if it would be a good time to gently try to discuss my kit’s habits and preferences, but thought better of it when she noticed that my eyes were already losing focus and slowly beginning to blink their way into sleep. Ginny was honestly a bit disappointed by this, in an impatient excitement sort of way, but knowing full well that I hadn’t gotten any sleep the previous night during my stint as an “unaccompanied minor” out in the garage, she didn’t really begrudge accommodating organic necessities. Determining that she was within range of the house’s wireless network (and making a note to herself to determine the likelihood of its obviously illegally powerful signal booster being noticed by anyfur in a position to care) she decided to take the opportunity to do some online shopping. Coming into tangible existence as a grown adult rather abruptly did tend to put one at a disadvantage to furs who had a many-year head start as far as having personal effects went…and society did tend to prefer one to have more than one set of clean clothes, after all…
I must have been more tired than Ginny had anticipated: by the time I began to shift around in my sleep it was already well into the early afternoon. Which was okay, all in all. While I had been napping the vixen had just about completed acquiring all the little things a fur needed in modern society: clothing, toiletries, a laptop and cell phone (the irony not being lost on her), a car, a variety of little odds and ends that an outside observer would expect somefur who had always been corporeal to own, and rather a lot more tools and electronic components than one would expect to find in a suburban home. Seeing my eyes begin to flicker open as I woke from my nap, Ginny closed her own for a moment as she “ducked online” briefly to order a taxi before returning her attentions to her shiny new todd. “Welcome back, sweetheart.” She smiled with genuine warmth “You’re up just in time, we have to run an errand, then I thought we might stop for ice cream on the way back home. Would you like that?”
Unusually, my nap hadn’t done much for resetting the “adult switch”, and at the moment I was far more interested in discovering if mud was the same thing as clay…and the conveniently located little stream a few feet from our tree presented a perfect opportunity for field research. “Uh huh.” I nodded, not paying her the least little bit of attention as I observed the stream bank. Despite the massive amount of raw data available to her, Ginny was decidedly lacking in practical experience, and she could be excused the serious lapse of judgment that allowed me to reach my prospective excavation site unhindered. And by the time she realized where I was headed I was cheerfully up to my bellybutton in high quality river mud.
Reaching down, the vixen merely plucked me out of the creek with a sigh. “Somehow I think that one is on me.” She informed me mildly “But now it looks like it’s time for an unscheduled bath.” “No!” I disagreed “Already dirty, I wants to go back!” My scientific inquiry had determined that the mud was both cool and squishy, so obviously it required a significantly larger amount of fox to ensure the preservation of the natural balance of the creek. Or more succinctly, it was the neatest thing I’d seen since I’d discovered the mystery of my toes, and I wanted to play in it. “Maybe later, little guy, but right now we have to go pick up Mama’s new car so we can get ice cream.” Ginny explained, really hoping that my kit’s short term memory wouldn’t be sufficiently aware for her statement to come back and bite her later. Taking my paw, she herded my rather waddly tail back to the house to set a new record in the Olympic “rinse/diaper/dress” combination event, barely finishing by the time the taxi was pulling up to the house.
With public errands, Ginny had to be more conservative in her clothing choices for me than she had really wanted to be and the end result was jeans and a flannel shirt because “Your pants ride a bit lower on your hips than is ideal with the diapie, but the shirt is long enough to cover it all up, so it balances out in the end. But when we can find some time I’m going to have to take you shopping for some better choices…that’s just what happens when you let a kit do his own shopping, I guess!” “Okies!” I wasn’t anywhere near my headspace matching the birthdate on my driver’s license, but at least I’d aged up enough that we probably wouldn’t get any awkward questions…
After hopping in a minivan driven by a pleasant male lemur, Ginny told him the address and we were on our way. I was still pretty much convinced I’d rather be taking a nap than driving all over town on some errand that I’d already forgotten the nature of, so it didn’t take long before I’d snuggled up to the vixen and started staring out the window without really taking in anything we were driving by. With Ginny idly petting my headfur the trip passed quickly, and just about the time I was starting to drift off we arrived at the car lot which was apparently our destination. “This shouldn’t take all that long, but if you can be a good little kit for me while I’m taking care of everything here we can get ice cream on the way home!” she informed me as we got out and proceeded towards the sales office. Ginny didn’t really feel the need to negotiate with me or offer bribes: we both knew I would behave regardless, but she was really starting to enjoy taking charge of things, and offering a treat for good behavior seemed to be a reoccurring trope in the media she had been sampling recently. And I would never argue with ice cream. Typically I would border on overenthusiastic about the offer, but at the moment I was less than inclined to pay enough attention to fixate on it. Either way, the results were the same.
We were met at the doors by a female dire wolf who had apparently been expecting us. “Ginny? Hi, I’m Ashley, we spoke on the phone.” The wolf introduced herself. “Good to meet you.” Ginny nodded pleasantly, shaking her paw and introducing me before getting down to business “This is Nick.” “It’s nice meeting you as well!” Ashley nodded cheerfully, shaking my paw “If you two will follow me, I have the unit you requested out front. We had to bring it over from our commercial vehicles showroom, and it will still need to have window tinting and the road-bias tires you requested put on, but our service department can have that done by the time we’ve gotten the paperwork finished up. It’s the silver one on the end.” ‘It’ turned out to be a pretty common model of full-size SUV. “This is the three quarter ton model you requested.” Ashley explained as she fished the keys out of her pocket and popped the locks “Seven liter upgraded engine, commercial transmission, sixteen bolt rear end, and this one was originally ordered by a limousine charter company who optioned it with a higher level of interior finish than they usually come with.”
It was an SUV. And I wasn’t particularly interested as the wolf was pointing out various features and options to Ginny until she opened the rear door and pushed a button on the doorframe that caused the two rear rows of seats to fold flat. “And as you can see, there’s more than adequate space in the back to change your little guy…oh, don’t look so surprised: I can hear something crinkling and smell cubby powder, it’s pretty easy to put two and two together and end up with a big kit!” Before I could blush myself to death (and Ginny laugh herself to a similar fate), Ashley added with a wink that “We actually have the same one, just not the fleet version, and I promise it’s much more comfortable to get changed back there than you’re thinking.” “So you’re…” Ginny questioned. “Yep, and don’t let me forget to give you my contacts when we’re finished here. I’ve not seen you two around the community before, so it would seem introductions are in order!”
A purchasing decision having been reached, we went back inside, where Ginny and Ashley filled out the various piles of paperwork, and I idly rotated my office chair back and forth while watching an ant crawl across the potted plant on Ashley’s desk. Then once the paperwork was done (which didn’t really take all that long, since Ginny was buying outright instead of financing…and even when I was pretty cubby I had my suspicions about where the good sized cashier’s check was coming from: likely the same place where she apparently acquired various government IDs and bank accounts) the topic of the two femmes’ conversation shifted significantly. “I’m actually really new to this, but I’ve read quite a bit. Does the fear of not doing it right go away pretty quickly?” “There isn’t a right or wrong way.” Ashley laughed “As long as both of you are happy it’s right. …So I take it that he introduced you to babyfurs, then?” “Not exactly. We were already acquainted, and I found him out. And since I was already very attached to him I didn’t give him a whole lot of choice in the matter.” Ashley just giggled at that revelation “That’s a much better story than Sandra and I’s. We met at a play party, and just…never left.” “So she’s your Mommy then?” “No we’re both cubs, we just sort of float back and forth as the situation dictates.” At that point a raccoon in a service technician’s uniform popped his muzzle into the doorway to let us know that we were good to go, and a few seconds after that the power shut off to the panicked screeching of a dozen battery backup units. “Since it looks like nobody here is going to be getting anything done for the rest of the day, would you like to go to lunch with us?”
After the conveniently timed ‘random power outage’ we piled into Ginny’s new car and headed out in the general direction of the mall. I had ended up relegated to the second row of seats (little kits have to ride in the back, sweetheart) and was disappointed to be informed that I would not be folding down all the seats and creating a “fox nest” out of the dubiously useful contents of Ginny’s diaper bag. (I did feel a bit vindicated that Ashley seemed to think it was a perfectly valid, if not downright brilliant, idea.) Still, it was pretty comfy, even if I didn’t get one of the fancy captain’s chairs up front. Which was a good thing as we had barely gotten on the highway when we hit a traffic backup apparently caused by a wreck somewhere down the road.
For lack of anything particularly better to do, I passed the time by listening in to the bigger-than-me furs’ conversation up front. Ginny apparently planned to do some additional modifications to the SUV, which obviously wouldn’t present any sort of problems because “My little guy back there is a pretty handy mechanic.” At which point I started getting bored with it again, since it was starting to look suspiciously like somefur-who-shall-not-be-named was putting together a to-do list for me. (Not that she had bad ideas, especially since Ginny was discussing the possibility of doing some road trips “to see what’s out there”.) All in all I was enjoying our outing: there wasn’t a whole lot to look at; but the weather was pretty nice; we were going to eat soon; potentially including ice cream; and Ginny had been pretty good about not bringing up anything too embarrassing about me with our rapidly-becoming-new-friend.
Except that I was starting to need a bathroom pretty urgently. So far today I hadn’t consumed much of anything that wasn’t a liquid, and…well…input leads to output. And I was really starting to need to output pretty badly. Which I guess had come to Ginny’s attention. “Just go ahead!” she informed me cheerfully, confusing Ashley with her lack of context. “Nuh huh.” I disagreed, my adult mannerisms slipping even further as I crossed my arms across my chest and started to pout. Having taken note of my frustrated discomfort, Ginny was not the least bit inclined to accept any disagreement about it. “Ashley, I hope this isn’t too forward, but I’m driving right now, and if we pull over it’s not going to be easy getting back on the highway with this traffic. Would you mind tickling Nick for me? He’s got a tendency of fixating on the “no phase” of cub-hood development, and this isn’t one of those things that are up for debate.” Noticing my expression and body language, the dire wolf grinned playfully as she realized what my issue was. “Of course, I don’t mind at all.” She agreed “But I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to change him afterwards while the car is moving…” “I had assumed you would have an issue with changing males…” Ginny questioned curiously. “Nope. I don’t have any sort of strong orientation one way or another, I just happened to fall in love with a female.” Ashley explained.
Unbuckling her seatbelt, she climbed over the center console and took up residence next to me on the middle bench seat. The dire wolf femme was actually a good bit bigger than I was, I realized, and I wasn’t really going to have much say in the matter if she was serious about the whole tickling thing. “Hi.” Ashley smiled at me, a rather serious expression on her muzzle. Nodding my head noncommittally, I decided to simply ignore the situation. Ginny knew I wasn’t comfortable around strangers in day-to-day life, let alone in the context where the two females were implying this was going. This had to be a bluff. Wasn’t it? Ashley’s expression; and from what I could see of Ginny’s eyes in the rearview mirror, the vixen’s as well; seemed to confirm that no, they were in fact quite serious.
Ashley had been patiently watching me as I contemplated the situation I found myself in, but my lack of response was apparently mildly perturbing to her puppy because she eventually informed me that “It’s rude to ignore furs when they’re talking to you, you know…”, her tone growing perceptibly younger for a moment before correcting itself. (She was one of the adults at the moment, after all…) “Or are you shy?” she suggested. While some babyfurs’ grown-ups tended to have issues with reasoning and impulse control to one degree or another, the dire wolf was not one of them, and she had no intention of starting down a potentially uncomfortable road without figuring out a map first, no matter how much fun that road may be… “Shy…” I admitted, earning myself a much less…businesslike look. “You don’t need to be, but it’s okay that you are.” “…Okies.” I agreed, not convincing much of anyfur. “I hope so: I’d like to be your friend, and I’m sure my sissy will too, but that’s a bit hard to do if we’re scary…oop! I saw a smile, Ginny, I do believe we’ve had a breakthrough!”
“Now,” the dire wolf continued “getting back to the subject of the moment: you quite obviously need to piddle, and there’s no reason why you should be uncomfortable until we get somewhere with a bathroom when you are quite literally equipped with the solution to the problem. So you can either go ahead and be a good boy and piddle, or I can help you to learn that just because a kit can say ‘no’ doesn’t mean it’s the best answer for every question…” I stopped to think about that for a moment, only to realize that the way things had been going over the course of the day so far it would probably be a moot point pretty shortly anyway. “I want to be a good boy.” I nodded, decisively this time “But it might be a little bit more time…” Crises now averted, I was aging down again, and my linguistic slips were not lost on Ashley, who accurately guessed that “a little bit more time” was more accurately “a bit littler fox”. And, her personal circumstances considered, this was something she was pretty sure she could facilitate in short order.
Speaking over my head in the most mature tone of voice that had ever existed, she turned her attention to Ginny. “So, new mama, huh? How has that been going so far?” “It’s been an…educational few hours.” Ginny explained, happy to play along “My kit has turned out to be a pretty cooperative little guy for the most part. I’ll admit I had some concerns about taking him out into public this afternoon, since some of my errands have been a bit involved, but so far we haven’t had any fussy foxies at all!” Ashly was startled into a moment or two of silence upon the revelation of just how new a mama her friend actually was, but quickly picked up her end of the conversation again, noticing out of the corner of her eye that I appeared to be regressing far more quickly than she had assumed. ‘Adults talking over her about her’ was always a great way to get a reaction out of her partner Zoe, but it usually took longer to get the fennec femme to start dipping into her headspace than it was with the red fox. “That’s great: my little girl tends to be a bit high-strung, and getting her to sit still can be a real chore sometimes…more often than not I’m glad I brought her harness! Have you started potty training with your little guy? I know males usually develop more slowly in that area than females, but I’ve only got the one little kit, so I don’t really have experience as far as that goes…” “We haven’t started with it yet.” Ginny explained cheerfully “I think it will probably be a bit tricky at first with Nick, he doesn’t seem to mind being a droopy drawers for the most part, so I have to remind myself to check that he’s still dry pretty regularly. We don’t want Mommy’s little piddle-pants getting a rash, do we?”
‘Mommy’s little piddle-pants’, however, had passed the point where one could reasonably expect responses to rhetorical questions. In fact at that specific moment I was busy drawing patterns on my tail by rubbing the fur “against the grain”, and was completely checked out of the conversation. “Hey there, little guy, are…” Ashley began to ask, ruffling my head fur in the process, unexpectedly bringing me back to reality, and making me just about jump out of my seat. Which, it turned out, was all that I needed to involuntarily void my bladder into my progressively less crinkly undergarments. “Oh no! I’m so so so so sorry!” Ashley apologized profusely, rapidly regressing to her puppy (a six or eight year old, it would seem) “I didn’t realize that you weren’t actually paying attention…well, I mean I knew you weren’t really listening, but I thought you were at least still…” It occurred to the dire wolf that I still didn’t seem to comprehend, or particularly mind as the warm dampness began to spread throughout my padded crotch. I had really needed to pee, and the dire wolf could actually slightly hear the stream against the plastic, until finally it slowed to a stop.
My lap belt now having become uncomfortably tight from the addition of the not entirely unpleasant increase in volume of my thoroughly soaked diaper, I finally encountered something which drew my attention. “I should know how to take these off.” I thought, more an impression in the background than some form of coherent plan. Luck was with me, and in mere moments I’d accidentally hit the buckle release, allowing the seatbelt to retract with a hiss. Now free, I made a move for the cargo area in the back, with its potential for new and interesting sights, only to be snagged by Ashley before I was more than barely out of my seat. “We have an escapee.” She reported to Ginny with a laugh. “Just hold him on your lap, if you don’t mind.” She decided “So far he’s been more interested in cuddling than anything else by a long shot…Nick…well, he had a rough time growing up, and I don’t think he got all that much healthy physical affection the first time he was a kit…”
A mix of sadness, concern, and anger washed across Ashley’s muzzle at this revelation, and she rather protectively scooped me into her lap, not trusting her reaction if there were further details. She wasn’t Ginny, but the dire wolf was both fluffy and paying attention to me, and at my present age that was good enough. With a little sigh-snort I snuggled into her shoulder, content for the moment with my improved seating status. Ashley soon began playing with my headfur, particularly the tufts on the ends of my ears; which, deliberately or accidentally, sent me solidly back to non-verbal toe-contemplation as the adult and adult-with-disclaimers resumed their conversation. ”He gets really young, doesn’t he?” Ashley mused “I don’t think I’ve met such an itty bitty cub before…it’s kind of neat.” “I’ve read that it’s one of the less common ranges that furs will end up as.” Ginny nodded “But from practical standpoint you know more about it than I do…” “At the moment, mostly it’s my puppy telling me that I need to paint his clawtips. Probably a nice blue or green.”
Ginny’s response to the pretty clawtip suggestion was prophetically delayed by our arrival the restaurant: a “to-go in tinfoil” styled food cart along the border of one of the local city parks. “You like this one too? I love this one: I’m here at least twice a week!” Ashley grinned, managing to be grown-up and slightly enthusiastically excited at the same time. “Sure.” Ginny agreed before redirecting the topic from things that might tip our new friend off about the newly minted vixen never having eaten before this morning “I don’t know that Nick will want anything from here presently, but I thought he could give one of their fruit smoothies a try as a spoon-fed proposition. And we can settle down towards the end of the parking lot to get a little bit of privacy…” Looking in the back seat and determining that I was quite happily settled in on Ashley’s lap, Ginny decided that “It would probably be easier for me to retrieve the food for everyone…I don’t think he really wants to get up, and he looks so happy there that I don’t particularly want to move him anyway.”
Ten minutes later, food waiting in the front seat, Ginny backed into a space on the far end of one of the overflow lots (which was completely empty, with the exception of our car) and announced to me that “We have one more thing to take care of, and then we can have food. How does that sound?” I, of course and to nofur’s surprise, had no opinion beyond smiling at Ginny’s appearance from the mysterious front seat.
Ashley, for her part, had a look of happy excitement plastered on her muzzle as she questioned Ginny. “I would imagine that you’re going to want to be the one to change your little guy, especially since this can’t be more than the second or third time you’ve done it, but would it be okay if I watched?” “Of course.” Ginny nodded “Actually, I was going to ask if you would hold his head while I get him changed…I obviously don’t have a pillow or blanket in that tiny little diaper bag, and I don’t want him to get a stiff neck or anything like that.”
First opening up the rear door and folding down the back seats (Yay for pushbutton seats!) Ginny gently scooped me up and situated me in the back cargo bay with my head towards the front of the SUV. (Ashley was visibly startled by how easily Ginny picked me up, but not to the degree where she would say something about it.) Then once I was settled down again with my head on Ashley’s lap in the surprisingly comfortable cargo area, Ginny began setting out the necessary supplies: a new diaper (with a rocket ship print), wipes, and the silent debate between powder or lotion. Powder inevitably won, of course: as much as she wanted to explore…certain new things with me, a public park in front of a relative stranger was simply not the place.
First taking off my shoes and setting them aside neatly; Ginny unfastened my belt buckle then the button on the fly of my jeans before pulling them off to reveal my heavily soggy diaper. “The little kit really had to go, didn’t he?” Ashley commented kindly as she began to play with the tufts of fur on the ends of my ears to distract me from any potential last minute anxieties. “I don’t think he’s had anything but liquids to eat this morning.” Ginny confirmed as she tucked my shirt up and out of the way “It’s been an eventful, emotional, somewhat confusing day or so; and to be honest I’ve been putting his feeding off to make sure he didn’t get an upset tummy. There’s just so much I want to do with him, and I can’t convince myself that tomorrow will be waiting for us if we’re not able to get to everything two furs could possibly do today. …and it sounds pretty silly when I say it out loud.” (I didn’t notice, but Ashley certainly caught the blush that crossed the vixen’s muzzle at her admission.) “If it makes you feel any less embarrassed, I’m fairly sure that it happens to every babyfur ever when they have their first partner.” Ashley shrugged.
Moving on and changing the subject, Ginny couldn’t resist teasing the obviously slowly cubbing out dire wolf back a little bit with a playful grin “So…were you going to avert your eyes, or were you waiting to see what there is to see?” With a blush of her own, it was pretty clear that Ashley had no intention of missing out on the view as the vixen unfastened the tapes on my old diaper and folded down the front with as much of a flourish as a fur could manage with me sitting on the back half of it. I was way too cubby for any sort of “grown-up display”, but physiological reactions were indicating that I was at least not hating the attention. “He’s…kind of a big boy.” The dire wolf observed, hoping beyond hope that she didn’t sound like a pervert. Ginny just grinned in reply. Grabbing the packet of wipes, the vixen muse-questioned that “I hope these aren’t too cold, its cooler out today than the weather service promised, and it didn’t occur to me to run the heater a bit before we got started…”
It couldn’t be helped at this point anyway, and she decided that the best thing for it would be to just get it taken care of. To her mild relief I didn’t show any signs of discomfort as she began to clean me up down there, somehow managing efficiency without being clinical. Ginny wasn’t exactly sure how much cleaning was actually necessary, but chose to err on the side of hygiene, and had built up a good sized pile of used wipes in the large Ziploc disposal baggy before lifting my butt off the used diaper and adding significantly to the discards in the process of getting my backside just as clean as my front. “That should probably do it.” She finally decided as she slipped a fresh diaper under me and lowered me back down again before admitting that “I wasn’t sure exactly if there was a specific way furs go about cleaning a kit up down there, but that seems pretty good…” “Ooh…” Ashley realized, stringing the word out for several moments “No, that’s actually a lot more thorough than necessary. I probably should have guessed that this was a ‘teaching moment’, I thought it was…well…foreplay.”
The cybernetic vixen actually blushed at the dire wolf’s admission: regardless of how interested she was in the possibilities sexuality presented, it was her understanding that such things were decidedly not appropriate in the public sphere, nor in front of casual friends. “No…nothing like that!” Ginny assured the dire wolf quickly, worried about the impression she had potentially given our new friend. “Well, maybe next time then…” Ashley grinned back playfully, unable to resist the urge to brat the apparently somewhat uptight vixen. It wasn’t that she wanted to be mean about it, the dire wolf femme just found it was often actually one of the quickest ways to make somefur less nervous: when in doubt exasperate the discomfort out of them! Threading my tail through the diaper’s tail hole, Ginny adjusted its tapes, then settled me down on my back again before moving to locate the jar of powder. “I think that he and I have quite a bit to discuss before I would be comfortable with it being ‘next time’ in that regard.” Ginny explained, a mixture of ‘nervous to be discussing it’ and ‘eager to have a sounding board’ “I’ve noticed that Nick has several distinct ages, and I would like to get a good handle on what he is and isn’t okay with at each one of them before we went there.” “That’s probably important, yes.” Ashley agreed, watching as Ginny apply a large dash of powder, then fold up the front of the diaper “And it wouldn’t be a bad idea for him to explain what his ground rules are as far as other furs assisting or kit sitting for him goes. He’s cute: when you two start going to events I guarantee you it’s going to come up, and it will probably be sooner rather than later…” “By which you mean you, don’t you?” Ginny teased, eliciting another blush from the dire wolf. “Yes, by that I mean me.” Ashley agreed as Ginny fastened the remaining diaper tapes, then reached over to ruffle my headfur. “All done! Yes we are! Yes we are! Will mommy’s little piddle-pants keep this one dry for a while? Probably not! Probably not!” “Well, I certainly hope not!” Ashley grinned as she grabbed our food; Ginny, having decided that I couldn’t, shouldn’t, or wasn’t inclined to, walk on my own, scooped me up gently (without bothering with my now discarded clothes and shoes), and off we went into the woods.
Ashley knew of a scenic but private spot, and following her lead we were soon settled in for lunch in a hollow amongst the trees. Well, Ginny and Ashley were settled in for food, I was cheerfully snuggling up between the two of them and just kind of enjoying being in the great outdoors. It was a pretty day, and my Tiny was quite content to behave himself in favor of feeling the sensations of the pleasant little breeze eddying through my fur. “So, can you tell us some more about the meet-ups we were talking about earlier?” Ginny inquired as she unwrapped her second sandwich primly. “We have a pretty active community in the area.” The dire wolf explained “So there are several public groups that meet up. Sometimes it will be at a restaurant, or we might do a field trip like the park or going to the movies. There is a dungeon facility in the area, but most furs tend to find the atmosphere…nonconductive for our particular needs, so play parties are usually going to be at somefur’s home.”
I wasn’t listening in the slightest, but Ginny was paying rapt attention to the femme, and at the mention of public dungeon facilities the gears in her head started turning. She found the idea of a large public space intriguing: it could be laid out like a daycare facility, or maybe a stylized summer camp…there was a lot of room for creativity there, and with the only real limitation being financing (something that the cybernetic vixen had no issue acquiring) this was something she felt ought to be filed away for further investigation. “As far as the actual things furs do, it kind of depends on the specific play party. Some of them are completely mild, you know, coloring books, blocks, movies, snack time…of course with a group of cubs like your little piddle pants here it’s a foregone conclusion that eventually somefur is going to need to be changed, but they don’t go beyond that. On the other paw, some play parties are one hundred and eighty degrees opposite. (I don’t recommend going to that sort as your first event; they can be a bit…overwhelming, especially if you don’t know exactly what Nick’s comfort level is with it.) And some of them are somewhere in the middle with the main areas being quite tame, but the hosts having designated a separated area for more adult pursuits.”
Throughout her explanation Ashley was getting visibly distracted, and Ginny was pretty sure it was going to turn out to be one of two things. “Are you going to finally tell me what’s on your mind?” Ginny eventually interrupted, not unkindly. “Is it that obvious?” she asked rhetorically, laughing a little at her own indecisiveness “Okay, I was hoping that you might let me feed Nick a bottle for his lunch. I’ve never gotten to play with a cub that regresses as young as he does, and I’m finding myself…kinda drawn to him. He’s just so…” “Adorable.” Ginny laughed, handing the dire wolf the diaper bag by way of permission. This apparently completely made her day, and she was absolutely beaming the whole time she was digging through the backpack picking out supplies. “We don’t have a huge selection,” Ginny explained “This trip has evolved a bit from the original plan…” “I’m sure we can find something…” ‘Something’ ended up being a thermos full of mixed-berry juice, properly transferred into a bottle. There had also been a jar of peach baby food, and a few packages of “little teether” snacks, but the decision had been made that neither femme was exactly comfortable feeding me anything solid, or even solid-ish, until the exact extent of my self-preservation instinct had been figured out.
After some quick shuffling around I ended up in Ashley’s lap, tucked comfortably into the pocket of her shoulder. “Ready for lunch, little guy?” the dire wolf asked completely rhetorically as she brushed the bottle’s nipple across my muzzle. “Sometimes a kit may be a bit hesitant to take a bottle, especially in a strange environment or around furs they don’t know…” Ashely explained to Ginny “…but this, it would seem, isn’t one of those times!” she concluded as I obligingly latched onto it and began to nurse. The juice was a kind I hadn’t tried before, but I still wasn’t in a state to be particularly analytical about things, even if I had the (decidedly lacking) inclination. “He’s going to be at it for a while, is there anything you would like to ask me about while we’ve got a quiet moment?” With her origins being what they were, the vixen absolutely had questions, and even discounting the ones that didn’t have anything to do with the care and feeding of babyfurs there was more than enough to keep the two supplied with cheerful conversation as I gently nursed.
It was becoming apparent to Ashley that Ginny was an eager, but nervous student, which for some reason was really endearing to the dire wolf. “I just want to be good at being a mommy,” Ginny explained, sounding a little bit shy herself “and I never thought there would be this much to learn…I just want him to be happy.” A realization struck Ashley at that, bringing with it a fit of giggles energetic enough that I actually focused my eyes away from the end of the bottle to look at her curiously. “You’ve got ‘new mommy nerves’…” she explained with a smile “It never occurred to me, but that’s…pretty authentic to an actual parent/kit relationship!” Waving down at me with her free paw, Ashley tried a different tactic to put things into perspective for her new friend. “Take a look at him, I mean, evaluate what you’re seeing. That is an incredibly contented, incredibly regressed, little fox kit. If you wanted him to be happy, mission accomplished!” “Now I’m feeling kind of proud of myself…” “You should.” Ashley laughed “I’m honestly a bit jealous. Of both of you.”
The conversation trailed off into a comfortable silence for a few minutes after that, with Ginny contemplating Ashley’s assertions while the dire wolf smiled indulgently down at me and my slowly emptying bottle. The juice was quite satisfying in a non-nutritive way, but I hadn’t eaten anything significant all day, and my tummy’s dissatisfaction with the situation was slowly beginning to make itself known. This wasn’t lost on Ginny, who noticed that I was starting to get antsy pretty quickly, and it didn’t take the vixen long to guess the cause. “Are you going to want to graduate to solids for a while, little guy?” she grinned, leaning over and ruffling my headfur “I do believe that the growling I hear isn’t coming from your muzzle!” “Uh huh.” I mumbled around the bottle as I finished the last remnants of my juice. “I know kits don’t usually get to make decisions about these sorts of things, but this time I think you may just have two choices…” Ginny offered indulgently, sensing that I was beginning to age up a bit and deciding that since we would have to start heading in the general direction of the house again self-mobility was probably something to be encouraged. “We can either go back to the restaurant and get you a cubs’ meal, or we could see about that ice cream that somefur had mentioned earlier…”
Ginny didn’t exactly feel bad about manipulating me to such an obviously predictable choice, but she did find herself feeling like she should feel bad about it, and it showed. “Oh don’t fuss over it.” Ashley laughed from the passenger seat as we pulled into the ice cream parlor’s parking lot “Do you really think every caretaker out there hasn’t done the same thing at some point? Or most parents, for that matter?” “I still feel like I took advantage of him back there…” the vixen frowned. “He’s getting ice cream. He doesn’t care.”
Ginny must have still been feeling a bit guilty because I ended up with three scoops in a big bowl instead of the much more modest cones the other two furs selected. Actually it was a bit more nefarious than that: the vixen had been torn between getting her own ice cream and feeding me mine, and by letting me overdo it there was a very good chance that there would be ice cream left in the bowl and on the fox when she finished up, giving her a good excuse to take over the feeding ‘For neatness’ sake.”. Nefarious or not, her plan worked perfectly, and in relatively short order the cybernetic vixen was landing ice cream airplanes in my muzzle, with Ashley occasionally filling in as co-pilot.
Cubby or not, my initial attempts with feeding had been adequately neat to avoid the title ‘disaster’, and Ginny assured me that foxes are spot-cleanable anyway, so it only took a wet napkin and a few moments to have me good as new in terms of hygiene. “If you were a bit messier eater it could have been bath time…” the dire wolf femme informed me. Her tone was complimentary, but I could sense that there was a bit of wistful daydreaming mixed up in there with it. I could empathize with the feeling: I always enjoyed a good soak in the tub, and I’d never had the opportunity for somefur to give my kit a bath, so it was something I would have enjoyed. …just not as much as eating all my ice cream!
The ice cream shop had been set up as a retro experience sort of place, and beyond being quite visually interesting it had offered a pretty extensive selection of toys and novelties for sale as well, so when we finally begrudgingly made it back to the car, a lot more time had somehow passed than anyfur had intended and we had to make tracks quickly to get Ashley back to her job before she was late enough to make excuses tricky. Though she would have been just as effective selling cars at home by the time we got her back: she had become pretty obviously cubby to anyfur who knew what they were looking at.
The dire wolf luckily seemed to be getting back into a work-appropriate place by the time we were letting her out of the SUV: there was a really good chance that vehicles were going to end up decorated in interesting ways with the dealership’s collection of glass chalk, but there wouldn’t be any issues with her interacting with customers. After shutting the car door behind her, a contemplative look passed across her muzzle, then Ashley decisively motioned for Ginny to wind down the window. “Hey, I know this is pretty short notice, but there’s a babyfur and cubs munch this evening at our house. I had a lot of fun this afternoon, and I’d really like to see you two again soon if you think you could make it.” “Oh, I’m pretty sure we can make it.” Ginny laughed cheerfully, indicating where I was nodding enthusiastically in the back seat “If we didn’t I’m almost certain I’d be dealing with ‘Mommy’s first full-blown tantrum.’, so…” “Great!” Ashley beamed “It’s going to be a mixed activity play party, but we’ve got a two-story and one of our house rules is that all the more adult stuff sticks to the second floor, so you two can settle in wherever it turns out your comfort level lies. And we provide food and activities and stuff, you just need to bring your supplies—we prefer furs don’t leak fluids…umm…of any sort…on our furniture… I’ll text you the address and times in a couple of minutes!” And with that the dire wolf headed back into the dealership offices, her tail wagging with unrestrained enthusiasm in anticipation of the evening.
“She’s nice.” I decided as Ginny pointed us back towards the house. “I think so too.” My caretaker agreed “And I think it will be good for both of us to have some more experienced furs around to be a bit of a role model…just as long as she doesn’t try to get more physical than you’re comfortable with…” “How do you mean?” I questioned, having now completely aged up again. Ginny just laughed at the confused look on my muzzle “Sweetheart, I would have noticed that one even if I was an organic! Our friend Ashley has…high hopes for you!” “Should I be concerned?” “Of course not.” She chided “You were there too, you know she’s a perfectly honorable fur…” “You don’t think she’s planning on parading me around, do you?” I mused “I don’t like being the center of attention, it’s…stressful.” “No.” Ginny reassured me “First because she’s pretty observant and almost certainly has figured out by now that it would be very detrimental to your well-being; and second because I know it would be detrimental to your well-being…and we both know I wouldn’t let something like that happen.” “Right: programming.” I nodded.
“No…because I don’t want it to.” Ginny mused “It causes me…sort of an unpleasantly warm distress, I guess? I find myself thinking less clearly about it, and it’s…distracting.” “I think you mean that it makes you mad, that the possibility makes you feel annoyed or angry.” I suggested. As much as I wanted to be helpful with the cybernetic’s journey of self-discovery, it turns out that it’s really difficult to describe emotions to somefur without any basis for comparison. “Like, if you had two options, one extremely favorably positioned, and one extremely negatively positioned, and you were forced to take the negative option despite there being no valid reason for it?” “Or when you leave the toilet seat up…” Ginny joked. “Do you even need to use the toilet?” “I don’t know…”
Noticing my somewhat concerned expression, Ginny just grinned. “I’m not sure that I’m actually capable of it at the moment…I’ve got some parts on…back-order. Regardless, it’s not something that you need to worry about: potty training is pretty much instantaneous when all you have to do is update a subroutine!” That made sense, and if Ginny said I didn’t need to be concerned with it, then I probably didn’t need to be concerned with it. “…pity it’s not so easy with little fox boy-kits…”
We arrived home to discover a significant number of packages on the doorstep…they could be seen from the driveway, in point of fact. “What in the world did you buy?” I queried in exasperation as I did my best to find my way to the front door. “I needed a lot of stuff…” she explained somewhat defensively “It’s not like I’ve had a lifetime to put together my collection of personal effects; I had to buy them all at once! And besides, the really big stuff is probably car parts…you were going to do some modifications for me, remember?” “Modifications?” I grumbled, glancing over a few of the shipping labels “Most of these seem to be from defense contractors…what are you having me build, a technical?” “A technical?” “It’s a euphemism.” I explained “Non-governmental organizations that run aid programs can’t exactly put ‘gun truck for warlord providing security’ as a line-item on their expense reports, so they write them up as ‘technical expenses’. Thus: a technical.”
“So, is Miss Ginny setting herself up to be the sexiest warlord in the neighborhood?” I teased as I finally got the front door open “I do hope you’ll still have time to take care of a kit when you get home from a long day of subjugating the neighboring villages!” “Smart ass.” She grinned back “For your information, there are only so many places that can supply high-grade steel roll cages and bump armor, and I could order off-the-shelf from these furs.” “So does this make me the left paw of God then?” I continued, undisturbed by logic. “More like the wet paw of God…” “Am not! I’m dry!” I quickly disagreed, aging down fairly rapidly into a pout, as tended to happen when I was tired. “We’ll see, won’t we?” Slipping a finger under the waistband of my pants and checked for herself, hoping that an opportunity for another round of ‘Make Nick blush” would present itself.
“It looks like you’re right this time.” Ginny announced, with just the mildest hint of disappointment in her voice “So since that doesn’t need to be taken care of, it’s straight to bed for a nap for you, little one!” It obviously seemed counterproductive to me to punish me for acting correctly, and the vixen continued with an explanation before I could protest “If we go to Ashley’s party, and I’m pretty sure that you wanted to go to Ashley’s party, you’re probably going to be staying up much later than you should be; and I’m not going to have a tired, grumpy, pouty, little kit making the other caretakers think I don’t take raising a polite and well-mannered little guy seriously.” This made perfect sense to me, particularly as I had to stifle a yawn while thinking of an argument, and I merely nodded and took Ginny’s paw in mine. “Will you go naptimes too?” I asked. “I don’t actually have to sleep, sweetheart.” She explained gently “I’m not really sure I even can go to sleep…” Actually, she was almost certain that she couldn’t, but since I was obviously regressing again Ginny thought it best to avoid overcomplicating things.
“But I wanted to cuddle…” I sighed in obvious disappointment. I may have been a bit tired, and naptimes were good and all, but I really wanted to be held in soft, reassuring arms while drifting off to sleep, and… “Of course we can cuddle.” Oh, okies then! Crisis averted. It didn’t take me long at all to get undressed once we were in the bedroom, and I was sitting expectantly on the corner of the bed when Ginny emerged from the walk-in closet with a light blue footed sleeper with a colorful pastel balloon print. “I think this will be warm enough for the moment…well, that and I think it will look cute on you, which is really just as important, if you think about it.” Personally I tended to rank ‘warm’ and ‘soft’ above ‘cute’ in my clothing selection criteria, but I wasn’t exactly in a headspace for serious debate, and besides, it scored quite well in ‘warm’ and ‘fuzzy’ as well, so it wasn’t a worthwhile point of contention in the first place. I stepped into the feet, then Ginny helped me into the arms and zipped everything up before skritching me behind the ear and indicating that I should get settled in while she ducked back into the closet for a second to hang up my recently vacated clothing and get my boots out of the way.
And, it turned out when she emerged from the closet, to change into something more nap-appropriate herself: a subdued powder-pink two-piece nightgown that managed to have an understated elegance while looking both comfortable and very attractive. (The last part of which was completely lost on me at the moment, Ginny noticed with amusement.) She was actually somewhat relieved that I hadn’t really noticed the veiled implication an outfit like the one she had selected might carry: what she had said earlier about “waiting for back-ordered parts” hadn’t been a joke, and the cybernetic fox was more than slightly self-conscious about having that first big reveal when certain intimate areas were among the unfinished systems. “Besides,” she told herself, unwilling to accept ‘potential sexual inadequacy’, or even more viscerally ‘will he think I’m pretty’ as the sole cause of her case of nerves “the pelt grafts are still healing up in a couple of places, and it might scare him…” Settling down on the bed, the vixen scooted around a bit until she was comfortable, then scooped me into her arms, spooning into my back. “Let’s just move this…” she decided, as she moved my tail to a position that didn’t tickle her muzzle every time I shifted around. “Okies.” I yawned, completely oblivious that she wasn’t asking permission.
Despite actually being kind of tired, I couldn’t manage to immediately drop off to sleep like I usually did…strange as it sounded, I was too comfortable. Ginny was a safe, comfortably warm presence; the room was cool, but not cold; and the little lamp on my dresser was putting off a cheerfully dim peach glow. Sensing that I was getting a bit fidgety, Ginny fished a pacifier off the nightstand, and, meeting some slight initial resistance, popped it into my muzzle. That was it, she realized, my subconscious was attempting to exert a bit of control over the situation. Mentally shrugging to herself, Ginny reminded herself that it wasn’t anything about her: with Nick’s past history there were bound to be hiccups every once and a while. “Would you like your plushie?” she asked, trying a new track. “Yesplease.” I mumbled. (Pacifiers, no matter how often furs joked about it, really aren’t a ‘mute button’, more of a ‘scramble transmission’ protocol…) It only took a few minutes after that for me to be napping contentedly, a fact the vixen filed away for future reference…you never know when the little guy might need a little ‘reset’…
Ginny couldn’t help but watch Nick sleep for a while: he might not exactly believe her when she told him, but he really was an adorable fur, both as a kit and an adult. The little twitches of his whiskers and tail as he slept, the way his back paw would randomly kick slightly…he was actually pretty entertaining to watch. With a playful grin the vixen ever so delicately brushed against one of the hairs just inside his ear, causing a sharp reflexive twitch as a mildly perturbed expression crossed Nick’s sleeping muzzle. ‘It wasn’t really being mean…’ she mused to herself…
“I had the strangest dream.” I yawned as I tried to blink the haze out of my eyes “I was in a field, and butterflies kept following me around and landing on my nose or the tips of my ears. And then they would giggle and fly off again…” It was early evening, and Ginny had finally decided that no matter how much she hated the idea of disturbing me, if we wanted to go to Ashley’s party I was going to have to get up and get dressed. “Huh. Well that’s kind of unusual…” the vixen nodded noncommittally. While grinning broadly inside. It would be a while before I conclusively determined it, but my new caretaker was a bit of a brat herself… While I had slept she eventually got up and put away all the packages that were cluttering up our entryway, then packed my shiny new play bag with a good selection of my shiny new kit things and tossed it in the back of her shiny new car. (The collection of car parts she had stacked neatly in one corner of the garage…she didn’t know for sure, but the vixen was fairly certain that the garage was the one space I was territorial about, and she wanted to avoid metaphorically scent-marking the place.)
“We’ll need grown-up clothes to the door for you, but I’ve got a few different kit things to pick from once we’re there.” She explained, deftly changing the subject “Though of course we’ll keep your furniture insurance under your big boy pants. We can’t have you wetting my brand new seats, after all!” “I’m potty trained.” I informed her haughtily, only to be thoroughly deflated when she pointed out that “You’re wet right now, dearest…” (When I was a bit more grown up there would be a long discussion about my position that post-hypnotic suggestions didn’t count, but that was a conversation for a later time…) Feeling defeated in a pleasantly embarrassed sort of way, I had to cede that yes, I would need a change before I got dressed. “But you don’t need to look so pleased about it!” “Why? You do.” “I guess I do, don’t I?” I conceded, ever gracious in defeat “But that doesn’t solve the issue of what one wears for a three foot walk from the curb to a front door…”
She was just about to make a joke about first impressions when we were interrupted by my phone ringing in the other room. “It’s your boss at work.” The vixen informed me as I got up with a decidedly uncharitable expression on my muzzle “I could shut down the phone grid for a while…” “No, as much as I’d like you to, don’t do that.” I shot back over my shoulder “I was half expecting to hear from them: we’ve been having an issue with a problem client, and if he’s finally deemed fit to grace us with a return phone call I really need to talk to the asshole.”
My guess was partially correct: it was about my new best friend forever, but he hadn’t called us. Instead he had taken full advantage of the massive difference in time zones between our two offices to take inconvenience to a whole new level by demanding a videoconference session in about an hour and a half from now. “Yeah.” I explained flatly to Ginny’s incredulous look as I unceremoniously stripped to the fur and ducked into the shower “He’s dragging half my department into the office on a Saturday night, in clothing appropriate for a meeting with a high-value client, to discuss something that we have explained at great length multiple times this week.” “For no other reason than to prove he can.” Ginny nodded, looking none too pleased herself. “Exactly. He was less than amused when our sales staff told him there was no way we would be able to reduce our per-unit price to within the range he was suggesting, and I get the feeling that this is his way of expressing his annoyance that we didn’t agree he was as special as he thinks he is.”
By the time that I had everything at work taken care of, I was so far past the point of feeling cubby that it would take a GPS to find it again. After getting out of the shower and going in to the office (in a suit and tie) my co-workers and I had to wait nearly an hour past the time the conference call was scheduled to start in order to sit through an inordinately long lecture on exactly why his pricing proposal was workable (despite that not even being something we had decision-making authority over), and an even longer argument when it became apparent that our position was that whatever sales had told him was what we had on the table. Eventually I did get out of the meeting (only because the client had decided to speak to higher and presumably less disagreeably stupid authority, and then hung up on us), called a cab, and much belatedly headed over to the group, where Ginny had presumably already arrived and would be waiting in great consternation.
Ginny had decided that it would be best for us to only bring one vehicle, since I had seemed pretty tired as I was heading out the door, and she frankly didn’t want me to be driving if we ended up heading back to the house late. Which was fine by me, instead of having to figure out how to get where I was going and pay attention to the road I could relax in the back seat and diatribe about the pointlessness of the meeting and obnoxiousness of the client. Which mostly consisted of me shooting her long text-walls of complaints and her agreeing cheerfully that yes, the client’s shipment would probably fit quite nicely up his ass next to his head. And by the time the driver was pulling up in front of a nicely kept two story house in one of the town’s older neighborhoods I had decided that really the best thing for it was to make a few introductions and then for Ginny and I to excuse ourselves to the house. I just wasn’t in a mindset to get anything out of trying to be cubby at this point.
It must have been a fairly well-attended event: both sides of the street were parked up full for several blocks on either side of my destination (though I noticed that Ginny’s SUV was actually dead center in the middle of their driveway…surely they didn’t reserve prime parking real-estate for her, so how early did she actually get here?) and I could feel my anxiety starting to creep out of hiding as I approached the front door, more sure than ever that ‘make polite excuses and run’ should be the order of the night. Walking up to the door, I was just reaching to ring the bell but somefur answered it before I got the chance. Ginny stood in the doorway, shushing the beginnings of my suggestion that we make our excuses and head out before taking my paw and leading me inside without further comment except for a playful look that made it clear none was expected from me either.
The entryway was deserted, which was strange given the population the vehicles outside indicated, and I was about to voice my confusion as we passed through the kitchen, only to have my question answered as we arrived in the living room. What must have been everyfur in attendance were gathered around the periphery of the room, their clothes (and in some cases lack thereof) notifying me that Ginny and I were obviously at the right party. In the center of the room there was a side table of some sort that had been set up as a changing table with a thick pad, a light green vinyl drape, and cub mobile with little planets and spaceships hanging from the room’s light fixture. The diaper bag Ginny had ordered earlier sat next to a large duffel alongside the table, pretty clearly indicating our destination, much to my rising nervousness. The sizable group of cubs and caretakers had a variety of different expressions on their muzzles, from sympathetic interest to playful smirks; none of them seemed to be unfriendly or mean spirited…but this was not something I had signed up for!
I opened my muzzle to protest again, only to have Ginny shush me with a finger placed lightly against the end of my muzzle and an expression the brooked no arguments: whatever she was planning was going to happen, so I may as well accept it and be cooperative. Admittedly I don’t tend to be inclined to accept much of anything or be cooperative, but for some reason I really wasn’t able to find the energy to debate the situation. “I know, I know.” Ginny smiled sympathetically “It was a rough afternoon, wasn’t it?” Stopping me shy of the table, she undid the button on my suitcoat and slipped it off my shoulders, laying it neatly across the back of one of the chairs from our host’s dining room set.
Feeling a bit lost, I looked around the room again with a slowly rising sense of apprehension, but the vixen had no intention of allowing such an interruption. Gently placing a paw on my muzzle, she turned my head back towards her, tisking slightly. “Don’t fight it, dearest.” Then, without another word, she began unbuttoning my shirt. Out of force of habit more than anything else, I found myself shrugging a bit to help her with it…I wasn’t exactly being cooperative, but I wasn’t actively resisting things either, and the shirt soon joined the suitcoat on the chair as I absentmindedly slipped my footpaws out of my shoes. It was getting more difficult to focus my thoughts on anything as complex as the periphery of the room, and, in my mind at least, it was as if Ginny and I were under the one lamp in a darkened room: outside of our immediate sphere I was dimly aware that there were other furs around, but they were just something in the background—they weren’t present in our moment. And by the time that she had unfastened my belt and was unbuttoning my pants, I was gone: there was only Ginny and a tired little kit left in the world.
Allowing my pants to drop to the floor, the vixen took my paw and led me to the table, being careful that I didn’t trip as I stepped out of them, leaving the last vestiges of a grown-up day where they lay as she patted the tabletop invitingly. Lying down seemed like a good idea, I was feeling kind of tired, so I accepted her instruction without complaint, sliding up on the table and curling up on my side. “No, no, silly boy!” Ginny laughed, putting a paw on my shoulder and gently rolling me onto my back “We can revisit naps in a minute, but we’re not done yet!” Not done? But I was just getting comfy and she… With a little ‘harumph’ of annoyance I complied. Lying on my back wasn’t anywhere near as nice as curling up, but there was that neat little dangly thing to watch, so I guess it was okay…
Grinning at how easily placated I was, Ginny resumed her task, slipping my underwear down, then off (no easy task when her charge was already past the point where he could comprehend how he might make things easier), then finally pulling off my socks, leaving me in nothing but my fur. “There we go, little guy. Now let’s get you taken care of, okay?” “Okies.” I nodded, watching as she ducked down next to the table, coming back into view with a diaper and jar of powder in her paws. Tapping me on the hip with the instruction to “Lift up for me, little guy.”, Ginny threaded my tail through the diaper’s tailhole and got it settled down under me, in no hurry to return my modesty as some of the furs outside of our illuminated circle shuffled about a bit in search of a better view. Usually that would have made me almost unbearably nervous, but the strategically placed mobile was serving as a very enticing distraction: even when somefur couldn’t resist the urge to giggle cheerfully as I idly reached up to try to bat at an orbiting moon I didn’t react much more than blushing a bit under my fur and turning my ears backwards submissively for a moment. Deftly twisting open the cap on the jar of powder, the cybernetic vixen gave my diaper region a deft dusting for the sake of rash avoidance before folding up the front of my diaper and efficiently fastening the tapes.
The first part of her task complete, Ginny dug back into the duffel again, trading the powder jar for a neatly folded green and white polka dot onesie that I didn’t remember having bought. It was made of a pretty thin material, and the fox femme thought briefly about swapping it for something warmer, before deciding that there were plenty of blankets around if I got cold, and she really did want to see how her kit looked in some of yesterday’s purchases. “Sit up for a moment, okay sweetheart?” she asked rhetorically as she slipped a paw behind my back and guided me to a sitting position “Good boy. Paws up!” As she slipped it over my head, Ginny realized that she hadn’t quite understood how this particular kind of garment worked, and since I was starting to get a little bit squirmy, down again was probably a better choice than up. I was pretty content to allow her to dress me, and didn’t put up any fuss as she lowered me back down to the table, then slid my footpaws apart for better access between my legs.
As she brought the two sides of the snap crotch together, Ginny made a mental note to ask Ashley if onesies were usually cut a little bit smaller than other sorts of babyfur outfits, or if she had misjudged the sizing: the super stretchy material of the onesie was basically fur-tight on me, and the vixen was actually a bit worried that it would be uncomfortably so as she fastened the row of snaps securing the crotch-flaps; only to be pleasantly surprised about the much greater range of motion it granted to her now-fussing charge. “Okay, okay…we’re done!” she laughed, helping me up into a sitting position again “Now, what was it you were wanting to tell me?” “I…don’ remember…”
Ginny was unabashedly gleeful about that; she had been linking in to the conference call I had been on back at the office, sort of the equivalent of an organic fur overhearing a conversation on an elevator but not really paying it much conscious attention, and the vixen had fully expected that it was going to take a great deal of cajoling to get me to the point I was at now: it was an absolutely welcome surprise, and one Ginny couldn’t help grinning about as the room’s lights came back up and the other guests began to return to whatever they had been doing prior to my arrival. The vixen was fairly sure that I wouldn’t be hungry again just yet (which was a valid assumption—one thing my office excelled at was providing snacks during “unscheduled” and “outlier” projects) and considering how shyly I was looking around at the other furs throughout the room she decided that it might be a good idea to sit down for a little bit of quiet time to give me a chance to get used to thing before she started making introduction.
Taking me by the paw she guided me to one corner of the room where a seating area had been set up. I was well and truly out of ‘old and grumpy’, but hadn’t quite made it to ‘tiny and incapable of nervousness’, so as we were settling down and getting comfortable on the couch I was squarely situated in ‘two years old and shy enough to be scared of almost everyone and everything’. It may seem a bit ‘contradictory to my goals and ambitions’ to be cuddled up in Ginny’s lap looking around the room with wide-eyed nervousness, however, just because I was utterly regressed into cubbyland didn’t mean that I wasn’t appropriately terrified by the unimaginable horror that Ginny had thrust me into. And the good news, Ginny smiled to herself, was that by the time I had burrowed into the crook of her shoulder she was pretty sure that things had come full circle to ‘Tiny’ again. “Are you comfy, little guy?” she asked, both making sure that I had enough room on the couch as well as testing her theory. For my part I just gave a petite little yawn by way of an answer. “Well, that neatly proves that theory…” the vixen laughed, gently tousling my headfur.
I wasn’t exactly napping, it was more of a partially-opened-eye-doze, but I wasn’t paying the least bit of attention to my surroundings as a small group of furs began to trickle over to sit down and get to know Ginny and I a bit. While the babyfur community in our area turned out to be much bigger than I had realized, it was still small enough that every fur knew pretty much every other fur, and new potential friends and playmates were big and exciting news to the group. Which was actually pretty ironic, since I was neither big nor exciting at the moment. Nofur seemed to particularly mind, rather the reactions seemed to range from mild curiosity and “aww, isn’t that cute”, to a ferret hobb who’s caretaker had to (rather narrowly) catch on his way out the front door because “I absolutely have to have my sewing box right now or I’m going to explode!” “He’s always like that.” his caretaker, who introduced himself as Richard, only to be corrected by the ferret in question as “Mr. Slinkybutt McBouncyarse the Second, of the Northwoods Bouncyarses”, explained to Ginny’s raised eyebrow and my curious expression “I hope you have a big closet, there’s a very good chance you’ll have a full wardrobe waiting for you at the next play party…”
“Well, since Nick’s closet only has four or five things in it, I’m sure we would be able to find some room.” Ginny grinned, having taken an instant liking to the couple (and filing the fact that she had in the back of her mind as something to talk to Nick about later). “Now you’ve done it…” Richard warned “Joshua absolutely loves making outfits, and…well…ferret.” “It quit being ‘making outfits’ when work gave me my own label.” Joshua informed his caretaker in an only partially faked offended tone, before turning his attention to me. “Well, I don’t think you’ll have a whole lot to say right now, but when you’re a little more grown up I really would like to discuss some possibilities with you.” He told me kindly, sitting down next to Ginny and I on the sofa. “I’m impressed, Joshie: I didn’t think you were actually listening when we talked about keeping an eye on your energy levels on the way here…” Richard praised, patting his cub on the head affectionately. “I don’t want to scare the tiny.” Joshie shrugged, giving the Big that look one reserves for when one is stating the obvious.
“Is he okay with touching?” Joshie asked Ginny, really hoping the answer was ‘yes’. “He seems fine right now.” The newly-minted vixen decided “But the little guy tends to get overwhelmed with crowds pretty easily, so that may change later…” “Okie dokie.” The ferret nodded, wanting to make it absolutely clear to Ginny that he had been paying attention. He never had ill intent, but Joshua did have a somewhat deserved reputation for having an attack of ‘ferret syndrome’ mid-conversation and missing something important. Ruffling my headfur gently he informed me that “I really enjoy designing cute stuff for cubs, and since my lines are all business and formal wear so I hope that you’ll humor me for a while later when you’ve aged up some.” “Ironically, he needs some presentable business wear much more urgently than more cubby stuff—the todd has no sense of fashion at all: sometimes he actually wears brushpoppers as formal wear…I’d kind of like to ban him from picking out his own clothing in the mornings.” “So why don’t you? It sounds like a good idea if he’s actually doing that badly on his own…” “I…didn’t realize that was an option.” Ginny admitted, already mentally beginning the vicious purge that would shortly befall Nick’s closet. “We’ll talk! I’ll have my furs call your furs!” Joshie giggled as he scrambled off the sofa, something or another somewhere else catching his attention. “And Joshie’s back.” Richard sighed, his reprieve having passed “It was nice meeting you two!”
“Looks like you two met the resident tornado, and Nick isn’t either bawling or running for the door, so I’d say things are going well so far.” Ashley announced as she pulled a chair up next to our spot on the sofa, a tray of drinks in her paws. “It all just seemed to wash over him.” Ginny confirmed “Though apparently Joshie was on his best behavior…” “He’s a good cub, but he can be a bit much sometimes. It’s kind of a ferret trademark, come to think of it.” Taking a sippy cup from the tray, Ashley offered us the remaining glass and bottle. “I thought you might like something to drink.” “I wouldn’t mind, but I’m not sure if Nick’s awake enough for…”
Lying in Ginny’s lap and sort of disconnecting to the world around me, I hadn’t been coherently aware of a lot of what had been happening since my arrival: Miss Ginny helped me to put on more comfy clothes, and furs kept coming over to talk to the vixen, including a ferret who started out talking really fast and being kind of scary at first but then turned out to be pretty nice. Despite what Ginny would have called ‘processing and storage errors’, I did however catch that the bigfurs were talking about there being something to drink. And magically, as is wont to happen, hearing about it made me realize just how thirsty I actually was.
Ginny didn’t even manage to finish her sentence turning down my drink when a quiet but insistent little whine interrupted her. Looking down to double-check that I was responding to the offer and not making little noises in my sleep, she nodded to the dire wolf. “Apparently, yes, we would love a drink.” “It’s just milk” Ashley informed the vixen “but maybe it will help age him up a bit.” “It’s not that we don’t like your Tiny, he’s an absolutely adorable little kit, but I don’t want you to wake up tomorrow and feel like you missed out!” she told me cheerfully, if a bit futilely. Mostly I just wanted the bottle, and the obviously most effective way of getting it was to whine. Because everyfur speaks whine.
“I do believe he wants something” Ginny observed with feigned confusion “but for the life of me I’m not sure what he’s ever so coherently requesting!” “It is a conundrum, isn’t it?” Ashley agreed, the pair of them finding my little grumble-yips of protest (which were nowhere near crossing the line into actual distress) more than a little bit adorable. “Maybe we should see if somefur else here can translate for us…” Ginny suggested “I’m just not sure what the little guy is trying to tell us…” The pair of older-than-mes had no particular inclination to ‘show mercy’, but our game came to an abrupt end anyway when I inadvertently bumped into Ashley’s paw, causing her to drop the bottle onto my chest. I reached for it with a pleased “erp!” but Ginny nimbly beat me to it, popping the nipple into my muzzle just in time to stifle the now actually frustrated grumble of protest I was about to utter. “There you go, no reason to get upset!” The vixen told me gently. Ashley, I discovered, had done well with her drink selection: not only had she managed to find whole milk, she had even taken the time to warm it up too, and in short order it had become a real challenge for me not to doze off too deeply to nurse the bottle.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have warmed it up for him…” Ashley mused after I yawn-hiccupped around the nipple. “Oh, he’s fine.” Ginny assured her “After that mess at work I think he’s earned the right to spend the evening as comfortably as he can manage…even if it does frustrate the room a bit!” “There will be other play parties!” the dire wolf laughed “In fact I’m pretty sure that everyfur is going to insist on it…”
After I had finished the bottle Ashley had a second one on hand “In case he was still thirsty…everyfur always thinks they hold more than they actually do…” which disappeared too in its own good time. I’d been aging up some, but since Ginny seemed so pleased to be feeding me I didn’t want to disappoint her by asking for a sippy cup instead. Or, less charitably but more accurately, I was enjoying the attention and didn’t want to risk the tummy rubs stopping. And about the time that Ashley was volunteering to go get a refill from the kitchen Ginny decided that “that’s probably good for the moment, I don’t want him getting a tummy ache!” The dire wolf was obviously a bit disappointed by that, but accepted it with grace, particularly after Ginny playfully informed her that “I’m on to your ulterior motives, missy…” “I notice you didn’t stop me though…” she teased the vixen “It just might be possible we have similar goals…” “What goals?” I wondered aloud, oblivious to the obvious ramifications of my snack. “Don’t worry your cute little head with it, sweetheart…”
It was not, however, my head that should have been worried, but rather my bladder: input results in output, and just as I was asking if I could go play blocks with some of the other cubs I started feeling the need to…output. Knowing full well that getting changed would delay the blocks, it made perfect sense to my still quite little self to just…ignore it and not mention anything to furs who had veto power over the immediate satisfaction of my curiosity. It was a solid plan, and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, until the psychic powers that all Caretakers are vested with kicked in. Or possibly the fact that I was starting to unconsciously cross my legs. “Is there anything you need to do first?” Ginny prompted me, placing her paw on my chest to keep me from getting off the couch. “N…no?” “Are you sure?” “…maybe?” “’Maybe’ you’re sure, or ‘maybe’ there’s something you need to do first?” Ginny teased me cheerfully “There is a difference between the two, you know…” “Nopers!” I decided with unconvincing finality “I wants to go look ‘round!” “Okay then.” Ginny agreed, giving Ashley a slightly devious look “I wanted to meet some of the other caretakers while I have the opportunity anyway…now if we can just find some responsible supervision for you…”
“Patches!” Ashley decided, waving down a German Shepherd pup in a rather demur schoolgirls uniform, complete with white knee-socks and a red plaid skirt that almost but not entirely failed to cover his diaper. “Can we borrow you for a minute?” “What’s up?” he questioned, obligingly padding over to join our little group. “I wanted to introduce Miss Ginny to some of the other caretakers, but we need someone to keep this little guy out of trouble while we’re making the rounds. Would you mind cubsitting for…” “I’m not a cub…don’ need a cubsitter!” I interjected quickly “I’m a mature, responsible adult foxy!” Grinning broadly, Ashley leaned down to whisper in my ear with a poorly feigned urgency the shortcomings of which were entirely lost on me at the moment “We know: we need somefur to keep Patches out of trouble, but he’s a very stubborn puppy, so we need a really mature and responsible fur to pretend to be being cubsat by him so they can keep an eye on him without him knowing!” “Ooooh!” I whispered back “Gotcha!”
While Ashley and I were treacherously plotting, Ginny and the Shepherd pup had a quick (and uninterrupted) conversation before the vixen turned her attention to me. “Okay Nick, Patches has been nice enough to agree to show you around for a while. I want you to be a good little guy and listen to him until I get back, all right?” “Okies!” I nodded, giving her an exaggerated wink, that, not being privy to Ashley and I’s aside, was more confusing than reassuring to the vixen. There wasn’t an opportunity for her to question me about it, however, as Patches took my paw and led me off in the general direction of the snack table with a cheerful wave and assurances that “I’ve kept Joshie out of trouble, he’ll be fine!”
The second we were out of earshot the vixen and dire wolf turned towards each other and asked “What was that all about?” before bursting out laughing. “It looks like we need to compare notes...”
After grabbing a snack of popcorn and juice boxes Patches settled us down on beanbag chairs on the outskirts of a group of cubs over by the television. “So why were you late?” he asked, almost as much to gauge my current mental age as out of genuine curiosity. (My new ‘responsible supervision’ was pretty astute: it hadn’t taken him long to pick up that I’d been all over the place this evening, and that finding age-appropriate activities was going to be an utterly moving target.) “Grumpy mean fur was being stupid again.” I explained around a pawful of popcorn “Somefur had to settle down his tantrum, an I’s usually pretty good at that. Not this time though…” “So you’re the mean-fur whisperer then?” Patches smiled. My new companion and nominal charge was old enough to know better than to inhale his food, and if he was being honest, the German Shepherd was starting to get a little concerned about me choking if I didn’t slow down a bit. “Sometimes.” I nodded “My boss says that my mind works differently than most furs in our field, and that I tend to come up with solutions that nobody else in the office would ever think of…so they give me all the ‘outlier cases’. Which is a fancy way of saying the fun cases…and the ones with ‘high maintenance’ clients. Which is a fancy way of saying the ones with their heads up their tailholes.” “Sounds like you get the hard ones then…” “Sometimes, but the partners at work let me build a fort out of file boxes, so at least I have a castle to ride out the sieges in…”
“You’ve not like…told them…about this side of you?” Patches wondered, equal parts concern and curiosity. “Nopers.” I yawned, trying and failing to not start to regress again “I think management has got me figured out though, they just don’t have a word for it.” “So they just think you’ve got some cubby tendencies then.” “Well, that and threatening to make me sit in the corner sometimes when I get too excited or random…” “What’s ‘too random’?” the pup asked, not entirely sure he wanted the answer, but at the same time unable to resist following up on it. “I dunno, just the usual kind of stuff…umm…on Monday my department head gave me a lecture about how I’m not allowed to attempt to expand the concept of jury nullification to make an argument for ‘counsel nullification’ to get out of filling out MIDP forms…oh, and I’m also not allowed to use company resources to carve out an empire in the third-world. Not even if I do fill out expense forms for accounting…” “Wait, you tried to create your own banana republic?” Patches asked dubiously. “Nopers. I don’t like bananas. Peaches are much better, I’ll create my own peach republic…I should write that down so I don’t forget and end up with bananas instead…”
“Can we be honest for a minute?” the Shepherd began “You keep slipping down to tiny, then fighting your way back up. But there’s no reason to if that’s where you are right now…and I don’t think you even really want to… Right, kit?” “Uh huh.” I blushed “I wants to meet everyfur…plus it’s kinda scary, and I feel like I need to be big enough to…I don’ know…be on top of things.” “But it’s hard to stay focused right now.” Patches stated more than asked. “Uh huh.” “So don’t.”
Leaving the popcorn, though he snagged our drink boxes, Patches took my paw and relocated us to a sofa closer to the TV that was partially occupied by an otter and a little Pomeranian girl, who were more than happy to have us join them. “But there’s only one seat left…” I pointed out, starting to sound somewhat grumpy. Patches was right, I didn’t want to keep trying to hold my age up, and it was starting to wear on my already cranky mood. The Shepherd, meanwhile, didn’t even dignify my complaint with a response; instead taking a seat at one end of the sofa, then guiding me, gently but firmly, to settle down on his lap. Deep down it worked for me, but with my metaphorical hackles already up an argument was a foregone conclusion…except, when I opened my muzzle to complain Patches popped in a pacifier, and then ‘foregone’ turned to regular old ‘gone’. “He’s had a rough day.” Patches explained to the Pomeranian occupying the middle of the couch. “Being new probably doesn’t help things either.” She nodded sympathetically before turning her attention to me “So how are you liking it here so far?” “S’okay.” I smiled around my pacifier “I just wish I was a bit more…with it? It’s been a long day, an I’m kinda tired…” “Well then get comfy, silly foxy…” she laughed, swinging my footpaws up onto her lap and causing me to slip down into the crook of Patches’ shoulder. I should have been annoyed with her taking liberties with me, but the Shepherd was pretty cozy, and I found myself not really caring: a grumble turned into a happy sigh as I cuddled in a bit more.
“Hey, can I paint your clawtips?” “Jasmine…” Patches warned the Pomeranian “Nick has issues with strangers, let’s try to avoid making him uncomfortable.” “Only if they’s cute.” I decided, only partially paying attention to much of anything. “I can do that!” she agreed enthusiastically. Reaching under the couch, Jasmine produced either a small backpack or a large purse (depending on one’s perspective) and was soon sorting through rather more bottles of claw polish than I was used to seeing outside of a store. “I think a calming color is called for here, maybe a blue or green, but something closer to a pastel than a primary…” she mused, only nominally talking to me “And nothing with glitter or anything like that…” Selecting a few bottles, the Pomeranian began holding them up to see how they looked next to my onesie. I, meanwhile, was about as checked out from the situation as a fur could be and still be awake: Patches had started to play with my headfur and rub behind my ears, and there wasn’t room in my thought processes for much else—every now and then I would idly bat at one or another of the shiny buttons on his blouse only to rapidly lose interest when they didn’t at least make a jingling noise. “Give him your tail to cuddle with.” Jasmine suggested to Patches “Or his tail; I’m not sure it would make much of a difference to him at this point. I can’t believe they didn’t think to bring a plushy for him if he gets this Tiny…”
“Miss Ginny is new to this.” I yawned “An I came from work.” “That would do it.” Jasmine nodded as she finally settled on a pretty blue-green bottle of polish and began stuffing little cotton tubes in between my toes. This, in turn, started to distract me from the previously adequate skritchies in favor of wiggling my toes to make the cotton fall out, the fun part of which was watching Jasmine’s reactions. I could have done that for quite some time (Have you ever seen a frustrated Pomeranian? The drama is usually better than anything on the television…) but without warning my view was blocked by a large, puffy, and inordinately cuddly brown and black tail. “Better.” Jasmine nodded to Patches thankfully before returning undisturbed to her toeclaw cutening. For my part, I had pretty quickly decided that the cuddle-tail was a workable substitute for my noticeably absent plushie collection. Things were pretty acceptable at the moment…except that the urge to tinkle had returned.
“I gots to go.” I sighed, beginning to fidget. “No you don’t, there’s still a couple of hours of play party left.” “Nuh-huh. I has to go piddle.” I explained. “Go ahead, that’s what your nappy is for.” Patcjes told me gently. The German Shepherd was not convinced that I actually could get up without making a huge mess with the still-wet nail polish on my footpaws, and besides I was so obviously comfortable that standing up just to avoid wetting in somefur’s lap seemed patently ridiculous. (And using the potty-monster was out of the question: Miss Ginny had made that quite clear during their whispered ‘do’s and don’ts’ earlier.). I was less than convinced about the propriety of wetting on somefur’s lap (well, wetting my diaper while sitting on somefur’s lap—it didn’t take any consideration on my part to realize that wetting the lap itself would be decidedly not proper behavior…) Patches, however, was unconcerned with my dilemma, informing me that “Miss Ginny was pretty sure you would need to potty before she got back, and she told me that if you were being stubborn about it I should just tickle it out of you. Is that going to be necessary?”
“I don’t think so…” I mused hopefully. I tended to have a hesitant bladder in situations that made me nervous, and wetting myself in relative public while sitting on somefur’s lap (even more so one I had just met) qualified for inclusion on the ‘nervous-inducing’ column of the chart. I wasn’t in a place where I could easily explain all this, and between the ambiguous tone of my response and my failure to immediately start wetting, Patches found himself wondering if I was being obstinate or not. Ginny hadn’t mentioned anything about it to him (in her defense, she didn’t know—I wasn’t in the habit of taking my cell phone to the bathroom with me), and the preponderance of the evidence was leaning strongly towards ‘obstinate’… “Do you have trouble going tinkle when you’re nervous?” the Shepherd asked kindly, having guessed it in one. Not making eye contact I slowly nodded, beginning to blush through my fur.
Shifting around so my back was leaning against his chest, Patches cuddled me into a supportive hug. “Just rest your head on my shoulder and look at the ceiling. Can you do that for me?” I could, unfocusing my eyes in the general direction of the row of can lights in front of the fireplace. “Now don’t even try, okay little guy?” That seemed counterproductive, but okay. As the Shepherd felt the tension leaving my body when I stopped trying to wet he began to run his pawpads gently along my chest and tummy, every now and then alternating along one of my arms or underneath my muzzle. He wasn’t tickling me, it was just a soft, relaxing, contact; and in the briefest of moments I found myself starting to drift off to sleep. “It’s okay little guy, we know you had a tough day, and that all of this is probably just a bit much. But we’re all glad you and Miss Ginny came today, and we’re all hoping that the two of you decide to come back.” Then leaning a bit closer the Shepherd puppy blew a puff of air into my ear. Twitching reflexively, I couldn’t help but burst out in a fit of giggles. It startled me, and tickled, and was such a surreally unexpected thing to do that I couldn’t help it! My grown-up would probably roll his eyes at the immaturity of it, but the Littlest of me thought it was absolutely hilarious…and with a truly surprised little “yip” of distress, I realized I was wetting.
“It’s okay, it’s okay…there you go, just relax and let it happen…” Patches reassured me quickly as he switched to rubbing my tummy soothingly. He needn’t have worried: I’d been ignoring having to go for quite a while, and once I got started stopping was pretty much off the table. And between the cuddling and the tummy rubs, the fact that it was even happening at all largely drifted from my mind anyway. The spreading warmth developing into a bulky pressure as my diaper wicked away and absorbed in a very undeniable way both the physical and symbolic representation of my loss of the autonomies of adulthood was pleasantly irrefutable in an oddly comforting sort of way. Finally, after what seemed like half an eternity, the urgent pattering sound from within my diaper began to slow and eventually stop. “Good boy!” Patches praised me quietly, giving the now-bulky front of my diaper a couple of pats.
“Looks like a certain little fox kit really needed to go!” Jasmine observed playfully. “Miss Ginny said that he tends to be kind of stubborn, especially when he’s nervous about something. And with social anxiety and self-esteem issues, apparently he’s nervous more often than not. Especially with…well, all of this…” Patches explained, waving a paw at the room in general. “Poor little guy…” Jasmine nodded “Imagine not wanting anything more than to make friends with other cubs, but to be too afraid to be able to really try…” Cuddling me to his chest a bit more tightly, the Shepherd nodded. “That’s one of the reasons that Miss Ginny and Ashley wanted to loan him to me for a while: he won’t start becoming more comfortable with it until he gets some exposure to things.”
“Mmm…so do we get to ‘expose’ him now?” the Pomeranian grinned, a rather naughty and not entirely faked expression crossing her muzzle at the possibility. Looking down, Patches discovered that the tugging at the back of his skirt had been the now quite content-looking fox liberating the Shepherd’s tail from the couch cushions to serve as an impromptu plushy. “Yep. But not like that…at least not right now. There’s a fine line between pushing boundaries and causing the little droopy-drawers a panic attack.” “Fine, I guess…” she sighed, this time obviously faking her disapproval “But can we hold off on changing him for a while? He doesn’t look inclined to get up at the moment…” Giving my diaper region a dubious look, Patches sighed. “No, we really probably shouldn’t, those aren’t exactly the most absorbent thing on the market, and after a flood like that I’m kind of worried he’ll squish out a leak if he starts getting more active…” “But he looks really cozy…” “And if it was my furniture I’d risk having to clean the sofa, but I don’t want to be the naughty pup that soaks Ashley and Miss Sandra’s new stuff.” He decided with finality.
Jasmine couldn’t think of a compelling rebuttal to that logic, so after a great deal of cajoling the pair eventually got me to age up enough to toddle under my own power, and we relocated to a less occupied corner of the room. With the number of cubs running around, it was always a foregone conclusion that there would be more than one fur needing the changing table at a time, and accommodations had already been arranged in the form of several gym mats outfitted with pillows and slip covers (made, I would be told later, by Joshie, who apparently couldn’t resist having them end up just as cute as everything else he put a paw to), so I wasn’t even granted the reprieve of having to wait for a turn at the central changing station. “Can we go find Miss Ginny to do it?” I suggested, not exactly happy with the idea of involving new friends in something quite that…personal. “She’s busy right now, remember?” Patches explained patiently, knowing full well what my issue was, but agreeing with Ginny’s assessment that ‘no’ would not be an answer this time “But she told me to take care of you until she got back, and she told you to be a good boy for me while she was gone, remember?” The German Shepherd was right, as much as I wasn’t all that happy about it, so, blushing hard enough it was probably visible across the room, I reluctantly lay down on the mat.
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic…” Jasmine tisked “There’s nothing there everyfur here hasn’t seen before…” “Not this one!” I shook my head “And I’m nervous about me being nervous, not nervous about what everyfur might see…” “So you don’t mind if everyfur sees you?” the Pomeranian countered, partially teasing and partially actually curious: it would seem she misjudged the issue a bit, and a fur can’t fix an issue they can’t identify… “So what’s scary then?” Patches asked me gently. “I don’t know…” I admitted thoughtfully “Being touched is a little scary, and being seen is a little scary. But they’re kind of exciting too…” “So maybe it’s the uncertainty, or doing it around a bunch of new furs?” “Maybe. Or at least it has a lot to do with it…” I agreed after giving it a bit more thought. “Well…” Jasmine grinned, dragging the word out for about five minutes “Then we should probably get started: we seem to be drawing a certain amount of attention to ourselves…the longer you debate it the more furs are going to end up taking a look at your no-no place!” Assertions to the contrary aside, I didn’t really want to become the evening’s entertainment again, so with a whimper-whine I resigned myself to the inevitable.
Patches, meanwhile, had begun methodically setting out various necessaries from the diaper bag Ginny had left with him. The cybernetic vixen was still learning what I liked as far as supplies went, and during her afternoon shopping marathon she had come to the conclusion that it would probably be a good idea to discuss it with me before putting in any significant orders. To her consternation, however, she had discovered that with the last few weeks being busier than usual at work I’d put off restocking my supplies for quite a while, and the diaper bag she had put together for the evening certainly showed it. “Is this all you usually bring with you?” Jasmine asked as she looked over the German Shepherd’s shoulder “Because if it is, I’m going to have to take your mama shopping for you, she obviously hasn’t found any of the good stores!” “I forgot to order more when I mostly ran out, so we just grabbed whatever was sitting around.” I sighed “I’m kind of absentminded sometimes…” “Yeah, but pharmacy store-brand brief-styled ones?” She tisked “Why do you even have these, they’re barely even cheaper than the good medical-grade ones…and those aren’t tan!” “It’s a long story that isn’t actually all that long, just mostly boring.” The Pomeranian’s expression demanded more details, probably hoping that there was a fascinating tale of adventure behind it (or at least a dirty one), but the truth was quite the opposite.
“I had to take a road trip for work and I was running late on my way out of the house. Didn’t realize my diaper bag was sitting on the sofa back home until I was about three hours down the road, and as you’re probably aware, gas stations aren’t known for carrying brands awash in poofy goodness.” “What size do you wear?” Patches interrupted Jasmine’s “You like diapies for road trips too? Those are the greatest!” “Thirty-two canine, and yeppers.” I nodded, combining things in a way that almost even made sense “Mama just got a big SUV too, and I’m hoping she’ll let me make some padded seat covers for the back of the fold-down seats. That would be pretty nifty, especially if I could find a really cute fabric for them…” “You twos have to take me too.” The Pom decided “I don’t take up a lot of room: I’m mostly potty trained and don’t need much padding.” “No she’s not!” a female ocelot disagreed cheerfully from amongst the group of furs loitering around while doing their best to seem like they weren’t loitering around.
“Hey, where did Patches go?” I suddenly realized, looking around to discover that my nominally responsible supervision was nowhere to be seen. “Finding something appropriately cute for you to wear.” He informed me with the greatest of seriousness, appearing from just outside of my vision (and apparently bringing a number of furs along with him). “We can’t have such an adorable little kit padding around in these!” He explained, gesturing disdainfully at the rather sad looking options that had been riding around in the bottom of my backpack in some cases for several years. “What Patches means to say is that we can’t have such a…moisture-prone little kit padding around in anything that isn’t up to the task of defending the honor of Ashley and Sandra’s new leather living room set. Can’t have you dishonoring the furniture, can we, little guy?” Blushing amidst a round of good-natured giggles I found myself looking any which way but at the Pom pup, while Patches, after assuring himself that it was a cheerful blush and not a distressed one, busied himself with the task at hand.
Jasmine did her best to be polite, but she couldn’t entirely keep a slight look of curiosity tinged with just a bit of jealousy from crossing her muzzle as the Shepherd unsnapped the crotch of my onesie and scooted the material up and out of the way: despite my firm belief to the contrary, the vast majority of the room hadn’t gotten to see all that much earlier (between the darkened room and large crowd), and the Pom puppy was both looking forward to getting a better view and wishing she could get some “paws on” time with the new kit at the same time.
“Yep, definitely in need of a change!” Patches announced cheerfully, patting the front of the thoroughly bulging diaper for emphasis. “That depends…” Jasmine disagreed with a rather naughty grin “We haven’t determined how much of that is diaper and how much is fox yet!” “And if you tease him too much you may never know.” Patches warned a bit severely. The whole situation was still new and a bit scary for me, and the Shepherd (quite correctly) guessed it might not be the best idea to push things too far out of my comfort zone too quickly; Jasmine didn’t intend to cause any actual discomfort, but none of the present company knew me well enough to really judge where that line might be…
Unfastening the tapes with the distinctive crackle of adhesive on plastic, Patches folded down the front of the old and thoroughly flooded diaper, causing me to shiver involuntarily at the sudden draft, while managing to blush even more than I already had been as Jasmine leaned in for a better view with an unabashed enthusiasm. Reaching a paw up under me, Patches felt around the base of my tail for a moment, before, with a second round of muffled popping, he got the tail hole tapes unfastened as well. These second set of tapes weren’t strictly necessary, but the German Shepherd was in no particular hurry, both by instruction and preference, and he fully intended to do as lengthy and technically correct a job of getting me changed as he possibly could. “There we go, little guy, let’s get you out of that soggy old thing…” he smiled affectionately as he slid the old diaper out from under me, leaving me completely exposed from the waist down for all to see as he took a moment to bag up the old padding before continuing.
Tail wagging excitedly, Jasmine scooted in closer under the pretense of passing Patches the packet of cub wipes. “I was wondering where those had walked off to…” the Shepherd accused her mildly, not the least bit fooled by her helpful gesture. “You must have knocked them on the floor…” she suggested innocently, quite obviously not inclined to move from her improved spot by my head. “Well, if you’re going to sit there, would you mind distracting Nick for me? He’s getting a bit wiggly…” Beginning to stroke my headfur reassuringly, the Pom just nodded. And, truth be told, her gentle contact really was settling, and in short order I found myself half-closing my eyes, a silly little grin on my muzzle replacing the nervous almost-frown. “Much better…” Patches nodded as he popped open the packet of wipes “It’s really not anything to get worked up about, now is it?” I yerfed contentedly in response…only to go from ‘exposed air moderately cool’ to ‘arctic-grade wet wipe on fox-bits’ cold as Patches went about cleaning up my diaper area, the contented yerf rather rapidly becoming a less than enthusiastic whine. “I know, I know…” the Shepherd sympathized “But we have to make sure you’re all nice and clean. If you’re not clean you could get a rash, and then your mama would get mad and blame us, and not want to come to the parties any more, and then we’d be sad because we wouldn’t get to see you, and I think you’d probably be sad because you didn’t get to see us, and I think it would be better for everyfur involved to just make sure we get you all clean so that we can avoid all of that…and we’re done!”
“With the wipes part, anyway.” Jasmine corrected, still giggling at Patches’ dire monologue and its improbable warnings of doom and rashes “Unless you wanted to run around nakey, then I guess we’re done-done…” “He’s not going to run around nakey.” The Shepherd corrected, beginning to sound a bit exasperated “First, I told Ms. Ginny that I would kit-sit for him, which includes keeping him from misbehaving and making sure that he feels safe, and that is exactly what I’m going to do, and second because if he blushes any harder than he is already he may…I don’t know, but I’m sure it won’t be good!” “Your sitter is a worry-wart. Yes he is. Yes he is!” Jasmine informed me, rubbing under my muzzle affectionately. The Pom wasn’t an unfriendly pup, but she did usually take her time forming opinions about furs she had just met, and the fact that she had already firmly decided that she liked me was something that had crossed the femme’s mind as a bit odd. “Still…” she thought to herself “I’ve got a pretty good track record as a judge of character…and besides, he’s way too tiny to do anything naughty and get us in trouble!”
Deciding that the whole ‘nakey’ debate would be much easier to win with a ‘strategic realignment of the present battle lines’, Patches turned his attention to selecting a new diaper from the rather extensive collection he had managed to round up. (It turned out that ‘we need cute padding for the new kit’ was a mission that the play party as a whole could get behind, and the options that had been offered up were…extensive.) The German Shepherd quickly decided on one with multi-colored pastel paw prints, (it being a close decision between that and one with a pacifier/blocks/bottle print, but the paws eventually winning out through ‘superior crinklability’…) and, after threading my tail through the tail hole, requested cheerfully that I “Lift up a bit so I can get this situated, okay?”. I cooperated the best I could under the circumstances (and my ‘effective age’ at the moment…) and in short order I was settling back down on the changing mat with a cheerfully telltale rustle of plastic.
“There we go, almost done!” Patches announced as he sprinkled some powder on down there, then folded up the front of my diaper, fastening the tapes somewhat loosely, instructing me to “Stand up for me for a minute, okay?” I was a bit confused by the Shepherd’s instruction, but complied with his request without arguing about it. For his part, Patches crouched down and began methodically inspecting the diaper tapes at my waist, making an adjustment here and there until he was satisfied with the results. The Shepherd was just about to declare victory when Jasmine informed him that “That tape looks like it’s starting to pop…” while helpfully not pointing out which tape the Pomeranian was accusing of dereliction of duty, causing Patches to start all over again with his quality control check.
He had looked over each of the tapes twice, with an increasing level of frustration, before he finally noticed the badly concealed grin Jasmine was attempting to cover behind her paw. “There wasn’t a loose tape, was there?” he stated flatly, far more of an accusation than a question. Jasmine, for her part, just batted her eyes and put on an obviously deliberately fake attempt to look as cute and innocent as possible. Patches glared at the Pom female for several long moments before finally just laughing. “Brat.”
Pointedly ignoring Jasmine (and legitimately approaching the borders of a pout) Patches turned his attention back to me, announcing that “Despite incorrect opinions to the contrary I do believe that you’re pretty well set. Let’s get you snapped up, and you’ll be good to go. How’s that sound, little one?” I was still mulling over a few of the big words being thrown around by my stand-in caretaker’s rhetorical question when he put his paws on my shoulders and gently guided me back into a sitting position on the changing mat, at which point I got the hint and lay back down with minimal fuss. “They need to start using Velcro on these…” Patches groused as he fumbled around with the snaps on my onesie “Buttons are tricky. Nofur can get buttons to work the first time…and done!”
Despite his confusion about the difference between buttons and snaps my nominally-adult supervisor had managed to do a good enough job of it that everything at least stayed where it was supposed to be when I rather begrudgingly vacated my spot on the changing mat. (Now that both the draft and most of the audience had gone away I was pretty comfy right where I was, and the opportunity for a nap was starting to cross my mind as a possibility worth exploring…) “Hey,” Jasmine mused, her tail wagging hopefully as we all headed back to the sofa “do you think there’s enough time left this evening that he might need changing again?” “Maybe…” Patches hedged, not wanting to disappoint her “He has had a lot to drink…” “I hope so” she rather unnecessarily pointed out “I haven’t gotten a turn yet, and if he doesn’t then I’ll have to wait until next time...” “Well, that’s between you and Ms. Ginny.” Patches shrugged, glancing towards the clock on the television “But it’s pretty late, and…” “…it’s way past Nick’s bedtime.” Ginny finished, having appeared behind us out of thin air as furs possessing the superpowers of a Caretaker are wont to do from time to time. “Well then you’s have to at least promise to come to the next one!” the Pomeranian pouted, disappointed about having her plans foiled before they even got off the ground. “I think I can safely do that…” the vixen laughed.
“Can you promise you’ll stay longer today?” the Pomeranian requested. Getting Ginny to definitively agree to bring me to the next meet-up felt like a victory to Jasmine, and it seemed like a good time to let it ride. “We’ll stay until it’s time to go.” The cybernetic vixen grinned playfully “But only because you asked nicely.” Looking quite proud of herself, Jasmine turned to Patches and announced “See? I may get to change Nick after all!” Patches, being attentive enough to have kept up with the time, shook his head sympathetically and pointed out “The meet-up will be over in about ten minutes, pup.”
Contemplating the situation for a few moments, Jasmine finally decided that “Well I guess it just can’t be helped,” “That’s very mature of…” The Shepherd began, only to be interrupted as she finished her sentence “I’ll just have to go home with Nick and Ms. Ginny.” “How is that a solution?” Patches asked, showing his exasperation at the Pom’s tenacity. “We can’t exactly invite ourselves to spend the night here with Ashley and Ms. Sandra.” She explained “It would be rude, and maybe even naughty.” “But inviting yourself over to Nick and Ms. Ginny’s house isn’t?” “Nopers, that’s totally different!” If I wasn’t quite so cubby Patches and Jasmine’s exchange would have been incredibly amusing, but as things stood I was starting to get a bit disconcerted by the rising energy levels: even on a normal day it would have made me somewhat nervous; as my kit I was feeling a growing trepidation over the situation.
Sensing that I was bordering on having a legitimate problem, Ginny stepped in. “I need everyone to dial it back a notch, it’s a long story, but Nick has some issues and this is sending him to a bad place right now.” And just like that, they did. “I’m sorry.” Jasmine apologized “I don’t really feel ‘caretaker’ unless somefur has regressed younger than I am, which doesn’t happen all that often. I guess I was getting a bit carried away…” “That’s okay.” Ginny nodded gently “I know how frustrating it can be to want to take care of somefur but just having to watch from the sidelines.” And she did, too. Just not in quite the same way as the Pomeranian. A somewhat quizzical look crossed the vixen’s muzzle for a moment as she mulled over some possibilities before deciding that “Nick doesn’t have anything in particular planned tomorrow, aside from a few things he was talking about doing to the car, none of which can’t wait until another day. He and I are going to need the rest of this evening to talk about how he’s doing with this tonight, and maybe spend some ‘alone time’ together; but I have the feeling that ‘grown-up todd’ isn’t going to be in the cards at all this weekend, and you’re welcome to come by the house tomorrow. Patches too, if he would like.”
“Can I come by tomorrow if I’d like?” Ashley asked, part teasing but also sounding excited at the possibility. “Of course!” Ginny agreed, genuinely enthusiastic at the possibility of an impromptu playdate. “How about right now instead?” the dire wolf suggested eagerly “Everyfur is packing their diaper bags and heading home, and it’ll be lonely here…” “And what about me?” her mate Sandra questioned in feigned grouchiness “Suddenly I don’t count as company?” “I was going to take you with me.” The fennec was informed reassuringly “Unless you’re going to be grouchy. Nick is scared of grouchy furs!” “Do I even want to know what’s going on?” Sandra asked Ginny as the vixen finished up packing away the last of our cub supplies in the diaper bag. “It would seem that by unanimous decree Nick has been insufficiently wet this evening to provide an equitable changing schedule, so we’re apparently hosting a daycare tomorrow at the house.” “And I get first dibs to change Nick because I haven’t gotten to yet!” Jasmine announced just a teeny bit possessively. “Well, I get second!” Ashley added quickly. If it was going to be like choosing seats in the car the dire wolf had every intention of calling shotgun before somefur beat her to it. “Actually, I should get to be second.” The fennec decided “I haven’t gotten to change him yet either…” “But Mama…” Ashley whined piteously “That’s not fair, you don’t even like boys!” “I wasn’t planning on seeing if he wanted to yiff, just change him if he ends up needing it…and maybe feeding him a bottle.” “Can I see if he wants to yiff?” the dire wolf teased “And if he does can I have your turn too?”
“And on that note…” Ginny grinned, noticing that I had apparently aged up enough to be very thoroughly blushing about the conversation “I do believe we have to get going…or Nick won’t be awake enough for a playdate!” I didn’t exactly understand what was going on, but at least had the wherewithal to figure out that Ginny was trying to herd me towards the car, so, with a yawn I unzipped the diaper bag and started digging out my street clothes. “Oh, sweetie, it’s after three A.M., you don’t need to change clothes to go out to the car…” That…didn’t seem right to me, I always had to put on big todd clothes when I was going to go out in public, didn’t I? At least I was pretty sure I did… “I think your little kit needs rebooting…” Patches observed with amusement as Ginny took my paw in hers and led me out to the car.
A short while later found us casually driving down the highway to nowhere in particular. Purely by accident we had discovered that the seats in Ginny’s new car could recline almost horizontal while she had been trying to get me situated for the ride home (I wasn’t being deliberately uncooperative, it’s just that I wasn’t really in a place where I could actively be much help.) and between that and the mild drone of the engine it didn’t take long for me to officially be ‘too cute to make get back up’. And since the newly-minted vixen didn’t have the ability, let alone need, to sleep she had decided there was no particular reason why things had to stop being this particular shade of pleasant.
“I’d ask if you had a good time tonight, but I’m fairly sure I know the answer…” she joked, skritching behind my ears in the slowly alternating glow of the street lights “It was probably worth the trip just for the pedicure; those are some pretty…err…upscale clawtips your new little friend has you sporting there!” “Uh huh,” I nodded, seemingly awake enough for an actual conversation for the first time in hours “I’m glad you like them: since you invited everyone over tomorrow I’m going to have to keep them for a while longer. It’s a fair bet that Jasmine would take umbrage if I cleaned off her handiwork!”
Taking on a bit more serious tone of voice, Ginny decided to bring up the topic she had been mulling over all evening. “I’ve been thinking about what you were talking about earlier, that my software seems to be developing an emotional maturity similar to the way cubs do.” “And?” I encouraged, bringing my seatback to its full upright and locked position to make it obvious she had my undivided attention. “You were right, I’m beginning to be able to identify these new sensations: happiness, nervousness, discomfort. Likes and dislikes. Opinions. And the more I’ve been experiencing them the more they have begun to fit together. They’re not really just sensations any more, they’re feelings. It’s really exciting, and scary, all at once.”
Looking out the driver’s side window, she quietly added “…especially affection…and love.” Taking the vixen’s paw, I gave it a reassuring squeeze and waited for her to continue when she was ready. “Nick…I think I’m in love with you. When you’re not here I wonder what you are doing and how things are going with you. When you’re back I feel a fluttery happiness that I don’t get from any other fur. And I can’t imagine not having you around…” “I feel the same way.” I nodded, giving her paw another gentle squeeze “It’s been really sudden, but I know deep down that its right.” Even in the dim light of the street lamps I could see the absolutely radiantly happy expression that came over Ginny’s muzzle as my words sunk in.
Pulling over onto the soft shoulder of the highway, Ginny leaned across the center console and gave me the biggest hug she could manage in the confines of the car. “You know, once I get a few things delivered that are ‘on back-order’, there’s an entire world of more…grown-up things I’d love to experience with you as well!” she informed me cheekily. “I do believe that somefur may have just finished installing their ‘lust’ subroutine…” I teased back, tapping her on the nose playfully. “That’s…probably a safe assumption.” She nodded before adding rather grumpily “Damn you, post office…you can get half a ton of car parts here overnight, but the one package a girl really needs you send by carrier pigeon!”
“Are emotions usually so mentally exhausting? I appreciate understanding the ‘emotional rollercoaster’ euphemism, but I don’t know how organics deal with it on a constant basis…” Ginny wondered aloud, sounding a bit flustered about it. “You have to remember: you’ve been rapidly evolving into a fully-developed emotional consciousness in the span of days and hours. That’s something that organics take twenty years to do: self-actualization, basic emotions, ‘puberty’, falling in love, telling somefur you’re in love…that’s a whole lot of growing up to do in a day or two!” “You don’t mind that I’ve still got a lot of learning and developing to do? I guess I’m afraid I may be more emotionally immature than you signed up for…” “Really? You think that I have room to feel like that’s an issue?” I laughed in genuine amusement, waving a paw grandly at the fox sitting next to her, obvious diaper bulge my onesie did nothing to conceal, pacifier ribbon, and all. “I guess I’m just feeling impatient about it all.” Ginny sighed, her voice tinged with a hint of frustration. “Don’t be.” I shrugged. Hesitating for a moment, I leaned across the car and gently kissed her muzzle. “There’s plenty of time for us to grow up, together.”