The Holidays

How I Spent My Solstice Eve

It’s funny how much your life can change in a short amount of time.  Evenings like this solstice eve used to be the highlight of the year for me, going out and about to stir up trouble and make some quick money with likeminded furs, but in the three years since I had met Alice I had grown to prefer her company even over my most compelling of hobbies.  “Still,” I thought to myself as I finished putting on my much more respectable looking but much less purposefully reputable outfit “it was a big opportunity for her, I can always occupy myself just this once…besides, somefur is going to have to take all that money!”

Alice’s ‘opportunity’ had been to present her pet project at work to the full executive board of the company where she worked.  Between wishing her every opportunity for success and her infectious enthusiasm I certainly didn’t begrudge her the time away, I just wished that they could have scheduled a better time than the day before the winter solstice to hold their meeting. But that’s just how events had ended up: Alice in a hotel on the other side of the country, and me spending some quality time with the cars.  Making sure that I had the extra key I had fished out of my desk drawer, I was just heading out the door when I walked right in to Alice heading in it.  “Oh!” I yelped with a start, nearly banging into the wall.  “Well hello to you too!” Alice laughed “You’re certainly looking fancy, where is my little kit off to at this hour of the night on a chilly solstice eve?”  “When did you get here?  I didn’t think your flight in was until tomorrow afternoon?”  I asked quizzically “I’d have picked you up at the airport if you would have said something…”  “A spot opened up on the standby list.” She explained “Though if I didn’t know better I would almost say you sound mildly put out…  So, where are we going?”

“Umm…there’s kind of a car thing going on here in a couple of hours…” I explained, not quite making eye contact “And since you weren’t supposed to be home until tomorrow I figured that I’d…occupy myself until you got back…”  “Why Nick, are you cheating on me with a car?” Alice laughed gleefully, ruffling my headfur.  “Kind of.  Did you want to meet it?” I nodded, feigning greatest embarrassment.  “Well, since you’re obviously already made plans it would be a bit rude of me to expect you to change them on such short notice…and I did get plenty of sleep on the plane…” She agreed, putting her coat back on “Though I’m curious as to what sort of ‘car thing’ exactly furs hold on the eve of the winter solstice…”  “The not exactly above-board sort.” I sighed, preparing for the explosion.  “Oh?”  “Solstice eve is a gimmie for those incorrigible little societal deviants—law enforcement just wants to be at home with their families like normal furs, so there’s basically no authority figures out and about to speak of.”  “Social deviants?” she questioned.  “Dearest, there’s a horrible, dark secret you should know about me…” I laughed “I’m somewhat off from what society as a whole considers normal…”  “Is that so?” she laughed, flicking the paci hanging around my neck “I never would have guessed.  How ever shall I learn to accept this?”  “So there’s not going to be timeouts then?” I asked hopefully.  “Ask me in the morning.” Alice decided, waving me expansively through the front door.

“I was hoping that we could have a little holiday ‘us time’.” Alice sighed, whiskers drooping a bit.  “Aww, I’m sure we can come to some kind of mutually agreeable arrangement.  I mean, we all know how much I hate being all put upon and…” I couldn’t finish the sentence without giggling.  “Only if you’re absolutely sure I’m not pressuring you into something that you maybe don’t want to do…” Alice nodded seriously…doing a better job of grin suppression than I had managed.  Mommy had done theater in high school, and it still showed…she took a nontrivial amount of amusement in making up random but still almost credible stories and convincing me they were true.

“Well then I get to set the terms and conditions!” she announced, her tail wagging slightly in anticipation.  Shrugging off her coat, Alice hung it on tone of the brass hooks on the wood-and-etched mirror coat rack hanging on the wall by our front door.  One of Alice’s unrepentant vices is online auctions, and when we had gotten a place together after our bonding ceremony last year she had taken to the task of decorating the much larger place with an enthusiasm that bordered on mildly obsessive…when it came to her auctions, Alice had viciously competitive streak that I probably would have found a lot less cute if it were directed at me… The coat rack had been one of her recent victories, and one in which she was justifiably pleased: the etched forest scene around the mirror’s edge was particularly well done, giving the impression you were seeing your reflection in a little brook in a tranquil glade somewhere.

I would have been much more enthusiastic had it not been so difficult to get mounted securely to the wall.  Taking off my coat, instead of hanging it next to Alice’s I tossed it over the back of the sofa.  “What?” I asked innocently, seeing the look Alice was giving me.  “Brat.” She accused, taking a playful swat at my butt as she retrieved the coat and hung it up properly “We could still spend the evening in time-out you know…”  “Mean!” I whined in protest as she took my paw and led me back to the bedroom I had just vacated.  “Firmly loving.” She corrected with a grin as she sat me down on the edge of the bed.

At the foot of the bed Alice began digging around in a cheerfully painted wooden trunk: painted an almost off-white shade of tan, it had a cheerful balloon-and-cloud stenciled border, and was neatly labeled ‘Toys’ in a script I was a little surprised could be produced with a paintbrush.  The label wasn’t entirely accurate, but ‘supplies’ just doesn’t sound as nice.  See, the thing that never seems to occur to furs is that all the wonderful stuff that’s needed for the care and maintenance of a big-little-kit can take up a lot of space…’padding’ is, logistically speaking, quite accurate…  When we first moved in we used one of the spare bedrooms as ‘still-packed box storage’, and I could happily co-opt as much room as I needed in the laziest way I could get away with, but sadly it had recently fallen before the might of Alice’s decorating rampage, and the paint fumes from what I had been more than happily using as ‘clutter containment’ very quickly led me to declare the room to be closed for the duration.  Paint fumes give me some wicked headaches, and personally I was all for duct taping the edges around the door closed and just having furs climb in and out of the back windows.

Alice said I was overreacting, and promptly bought me off with the spiffy looking locker she was currently engaged in rummaging through.  Never let it be said that I’m not cheerfully mercenary.  “We’re getting a little short on some stuff in here.” Alice observed “Try to remind me later to order a few things, okay?”  “Okies, Mommy!” I agreed cheerfully even though we both knew it was mostly rhetorical: Alice does most of the remembering in our relationship.  But for sticky notes nothing would ever manage to get done around me.  I’m admittedly easily distracted by shiny objects…

“I notice you’re still dressed.” Alice pointed out with a grin “You don’t want to get your good clothes all wrinkled, do you?”  “No…” I sighed, drawing out the word longer than was strictly necessary.  My dry-cleaning bills were way down since Alice had taught me to iron, but it was not a task I liked to spend more time at than was strictly necessary.  Which she knew.  And was not above using as a goad to prod me into being a bit neater than I would otherwise.

As she laid out all the necessaries on the bed I unbuttoned my shirt and carefully hung it up before neatly folding my pants and setting them on the dresser.  “Very good!” Alice praised as I flopped back down on the bed.  “Right! You won’t be needing these for a while!” she declared, hooking a finger under the elastic of m y boxers and deftly slipping them off, tossing them in the general direction of the laundry hamper.  (Though we both knew it would only be a matter of time before Ms. Neat-Freak would lose the battle and put them away properly.) “All right, kit, lift up for me, hmm?”  “Okies!” I nodded eagerly, doing my best to help facilitate the tail/tailhole threading challenge.  Then, after a few moments situating the tapes on the tailhole, Alice gave me a gentle tap on the hip.  “Okay, down now!” she instructed.  Complying, I lay back down and was pretty much instantly fidgeting with the bedspread.  Way, way too much caffeine…

Alice promptly stuck one of my plushies in my paws.  “We’re out of soda, aren’t we?” she asked rhetorically.  “Nopers!  One left!” I informed her proudly “I’s sharing!”  “That’s very considerate of you, little one!”  What I tactfully avoided pointing out was that the remaining soda in the ‘fridge was most definitely not a survivor from before her departure…  Grabbing a jar of baby powder, Alice gave my diaper area a good coating before folding up its front and fastening the tapes.  “Now if we can just get you dressed we’ll be ready for adventure!”  “Aww…  Now I feel like I oversold it.” I sighed dramatically, putting on my shirt and beginning to fumble up the buttons.  Sighing tolerantly, Alice shooed my paws away, deftly buttoning it up.  “It’s much easier to start down at the bottom, silly boy!” Sticking out my tongue, I stepped into my pants, put my shoes back on, and we were shortly out the door.


A short time later we were pulling in to the driveway of one of those ubiquitous storage unit rental businesses that dotted the suburban landscape.  Seeing Alice’s questioning expression, I explained that “I’ll have plenty of space once we get the last of those moving boxes and the new refrigerator out of the garage, but in the meantime I needed somewhere to store some things.”  “Aww…” Alice blushed “If you had told me I would have finished unpacking that stuff…it’s mostly our books and the crystal collection I’d inherited from Grandma.  Since I moved all the stuff in from in front of the bookshelves in the living room to the new bedroom we can get it all unpacked soon, maybe this weekend if you like!”  “I didn’t want to seem like I was being pushy.”  I nodded, excited by the prospect of having my shop back “That’s great though, the lockers I’m renting aren’t exactly cheap…”  “Lockers, plural?” Alice asked, raising an eyebrow dubiously “How many exactly do you have?”  “Four.” I explained, beginning to feel somewhere between embarrassed and guilty “Two runners, a roller, and various sundry parts, tools, and furnishings…”

Alice shrugged, not perturbed a bit by the revelation.  “This weekend it is then.”  Pulling up to my units, I was feeling a bit relieved.  I wasn’t sure just how she was going to take that much stuff moving in unannounced.  Getting out of the SUV, I led Alice over two units and unlocked the circular cut-proof lock on the roll-up door.  “These things are less than parking friendly” I explained, rolling up the door “so I’ll have to pull it out before the passenger door will open.”  “Lovely.” Alice laughed as I disappeared into the pitch black interior of the glorified cardboard box.  “You’re telling me.” I grunted, unlocking the door with the keyless remote “Any wider and I’d have to pull it in and out on a roller dolly!”

Opening the door as wide as the cramped space allowed, being careful not to bang it on the wall, I delicately slipped in to the driver’s seat.  This was more than a little complicated by my habitually disconnecting the dome lights in my cars: not scratching anything, strictly by feel, is a developed skill.  I could see Alice silhouetted in the entryway to the storage locker, feigning a pose of impatient waiting.

Turning the key to the first position, I heard the fuel pump power up, then pushed the pedal to the floor once and turned over the engine.  (There’s a trick to cold-starting these things, even in this modern age of fuel injected electricals—leave it to the British…)  It had been cold lately, and the starter cranked against the thickened oil for a second, then started up with a roar, the idle quickly smoothing out as the big V-12 warmed up and found its stride.  It stumbled again a few seconds later as the thermostatic valves on the oil cooler opened up, dumping another load of cold, thickened, oil into the system.  Moments later, once the temperature had leveled out, we were good to go.

Creeping the car out of the storage unit, being very careful not to scrape or ding anything in the process.  Putting the car out of gear, I closed and locked the shed while Alice scrambled into the passenger seat.  “Shiny.” She appreciated as I got back in.  “Shiny under the hood.” I shrugged “The rest of it was like this when I got it…I added a few gauges and the improved belts, and put in some better speakers…”  “Well it looks nice.” She assured me, before adding slyly that “You could have gotten the convertible…”  “The chassis are less rigid and I would have to have added quite a bit of reinforcements…both of mine are coupes.” 

Pulling out of the complex, we slowly made our way down various side streets until we were merging up on to the highway, leading from the boonies towards more respectable parts of town.  The roads were quite empty for the most part, but all things considered that was to be expected.  With plenty of time and no particular plans we headed generally in to town at only slightly more than a reasonable speed.  It was a nice night out: clear and cold without any damp and just a little windy.  The moon was out and mostly full, though in the city it made no difference to visibility one way or another.

“There’s not a whole lot of room in these things.” Alice observed, taking the very short amount of time required to look over the interior in its entirety “Can you actually fit somefur in the back seats?”  “Realistically?  No, not in any way, shape or form…there’s a lovingly held tradition of useless back seats.”  Rolling down the windows, I cranked the heater up, resulting in the temperature staying just slightly chilly.  “Do these come with sunroofs?” Alice wondered as we got off the highway and started aimlessly cruising through the light commercial district, that strip where the apartments and single family neighborhoods began to transition into the business areas and schools where the city’s population spends its days.

The roads grew busier as we started to drive by late-night fast food places and twenty-four hour gas stations.  “We’ll have better luck finding some fun places that actually have other furs.” I stated, explaining the obvious “Besides, we need fuel…” I pulled in to a station a few minutes down the road that met my stringent gassing policies: the tank fillers must be above grade.  I’m not a fan of water in my fuel…

Parking at one of the islands, I went in to pre-pay (and grab some more caffeinated goodness).  Alice had the filler in the tank when I got back to the car.  “What grade?”  “High test.” I informed the vixen as I distributed the sodas.  She got the pump running, then leaned up against the back of the car next to me to wait.  “It’s a good thing I brought the diaper bag.” Alice observed, watching me make quick work of one of the three sodas I had brought, then cracking open the third before throwing away the empty and now unnecessary plastic bag.  “I can always find a restroom later.” I shrugged.  “No you can’t.” Alice disagreed firmly, a playful grin on her muzzle “Mommy’s prerogative!”  “Okies then.” I nodded back seriously as the gas pump clicked ‘full’.

Setting the nozzle back on the pump, I declared it “Last call for snacks…” then grabbed my receipt and got settled back in after Alice responded in the negative.  Turning the engine over, I pulled out of the station’s lot, and we were on our merry way to nowhere in particular.


A little way up the road we hit a light, and while we were talking about nothing much in particular one of those squat little 380Zs came to a rapid stop, the lynx behind the wheel giving us ‘the look’ before revving his engine and bumping the line.  “Well now, what have we here?” Alice grinned.  “Late model Z, high-flow exhaust, and that angry mini-vacuum cleaner sound is a poorly tuned turbocharger system…  If it’s already drawing that hard at idle it’s going to rev out at a pretty low engine RPM…”  “It was a rhetorical question, but I love seeing you so enthusiastic about things…” Alice smiled happily.

And then the light changed.  The Z’s driver popped his clutch, immediately lighting up its back tires, fishtailing for a moment before catching their grip and taking off.  I’d been paying more attention to Alice than the light, and as a consequence I came off the line a half second or so slower than the Z.  I let in the clutch more softly than the other driver though: spinning tires is just wasting torque.  The big 7 liter V-12 roared as I opened it up, the throttle body making a very noticeable sucking sound, even over the general engine noise.  The instantly applied torque snapped Alice and I back into our seats as the car jumped forward, rapidly eating up the distance the Z had gained by its good jump.

I was beginning to parallel the Z’s back bumper after the first fifty yards or so when we began rapidly approaching the next highway on-ramp along the street.  The on-ramp, as they typically are, was a one lane affair, which forced me to brake hard and whip in behind the Z.  (Even if you can overtake coming on to a ramp, you almost always shouldn’t.)  The driver of the Z accelerated hard up the ramp, with Alice and I pacing him about three inches off his back bumper.  I pulled wide coming off the ramp, once again pacing him in the next lane over, the car’s big 12 cylinder settling down to an only mildly interested purr as I let off the throttle to keep from overtaking the Z.

The stubby little car’s engine was revving about as high as it would go, and now that we were paralleling it, it was quite obviously producing an angry, high-pitched whistling noise that peaked in tone occasionally, coinciding with the Z lurching unhappily.  “That can’t be good.” Alice observed dryly.  “Told you.” I nodded “That’s the blow off valve on his turbo dumping pressure.  It’ll mostly keep the engine from throwing a rod or blowing a head gasket, but it won’t do squat for over-revving the blower.  It’ll burn out the bearings on the impeller and the whole thing will just seize up solid.”

“So basically you’re pacing them just to be mean?” Alice accused, sounding mildly disapproving.  Stomping the gas in response, I gave the Jaguar full reign.  Immediately leaping forward we rapidly pulled away, the Z receding and disappearing in the rear view mirror as the speedometer’s needle crept towards the second half of the gauge.  In short order we were crossing the river that runs through the middle of town, continuing north for no better reason than we could.  “It’s almost too bad you don’t have a convertible.” Alice mused idly “It’s actually pretty comfortable with the heater going…”  “Note to self: buy a convertible.” I cheerfully chose to misunderstand.  “I didn’t say…” she began before I interrupted, reaching across and turning on the stereo.  “What?” I yelled over the bass-intensive opening chords of ‘Du Hast’ “I’m sorry, I can’t understand you!  You’re going to have to quit whispering!”  “Brat!” Alice yelled back, fiddling around with the head unit until she found the volume adjustment.

“Somebody is going to become a deaf little kit if they play their music that loud!” Alice chastised, obviously genuinely annoyed.  One of the great universal tips in life is to learn to tell when furs ‘Aren’t Kidding™”, and this was very definitely one of those times.  “I don’t usually.” I quickly explained “It’s just that I pulled the battery not too long ago, and the stereo amp reset itself.”  “Okay then.” Alice nodded, sounding mollified for the moment “It can be hard to tell with you sometimes…”  “No it isn’t.” I disagreed cheerfully, “You’re just horrible at…” I was interrupted in my teasing when Alice popped a paci in my muzzle.  “What?” she grinned innocently “I’m sorry, I can’t understand you…”


We had been up and down the highway playing pick-up fort an hour or two: nothing particularly challenging, but fun all the same, and it was getting into the earlier bits of the morning when I started really needing to pee.  “I’m going to pull off and find a bathroom.” I decided, flipping on the turn signal and looking for the upcoming exit ramp.  “No you’re not…” Alice informed me in a singsong tone, reaching across the steering wheel and clicking the blinker back off.  “Dearest, I wasn’t planning on heading back to the house any time soon, and I can’t think of any convenient…umm…’changing stations’ that would be open at this hour…”  “Is that a grown-up problem, or a little kit problem?” Alice asked patiently, her tone never changing.  “A grown-up problem.” I conceded.  “That’s right!” she nodded brightly, tapping me gently on the end of my muzzle “So you don’t get to worry about it.”

That didn’t, of course, mean that I lacked my own concerns.  One very quickly will discover that wetting one’s diaper while driving takes a bit more concentration than you would think: sport seats tend to have more of an angle than normal, and depending on how everything ‘down there’ had ‘shifted in transit’ there’s a non-trivial chance of leakage.  On my very expensive leather seats.  To say nothing of the pressure added to the situation by the seatbelt.  But when you need to go, you need to go.  So there we were.

Scrunching around a little to get the seatbelt to play nicely (or at least indifferently…) I concentrated for a minute on the task before me, then felt the warm, spreading wetness, accompanied by the slight tightening as the absorbent materials went about their work, plumping up in the process.  I involuntarily shivered a little, then giggled.  “Heh heh…Warm!”  “I would tend to think so, yes.” Alice agreed seriously, before ruffling my headfur.  “Unfortunately, my changing facility is a ways back in the other direction, so when you decide it’s time we’re going to have to turn around and head back south.”  “Nopers.  Warm.” I explained in a very ‘you’re-being-slow’ type of voice.  “I realize that.” Alice agreed logically “However, it is quite cold out, and even with the heater going ‘pleasantly warm’ is going to become ‘cold and clammy’ more quickly than I think you realize, and…”

I never did learn ‘and’ what: Alice was interrupted midsentence by an old 5.0 ponycar passing us at high speed.  Declaring it “Mine!” I stomped on the throttle with an eager, though more than a little predatory, grin and once again we were off.  The ponycar had a pretty good head start on us: it may have been a twenty-something year old car, but somefur had obviously done a lot of work on the engine.  Downshifting, the car jumped forward with the change of gear ratios and accompanying spike in RPMs.  As the speedometer began creeping up past 135 the ponycar’s lead began diminishing rather more quickly than it had been.  “No matter how many electronic gizmos they put on the new ones, you just can’t beat good old prehistoric displacement!” I sighed nostalgically.  “Doesn’t this thing have a lot of electronic gizmos?” Alice pointed out sweetly “I sense a contradiction.”  “Yes dear, a lot of electronics.  On about a seven liter V-12 the same approximate size and weight as one of those crappy little hybrid cars…” I nodded as we overtook.  The ponycar showed no indication of trying to make a showing, to my disappointment, even when I let off the throttle a little and gave the driver a chance to catch up.  “Well, I guess he doesn’t want to play.” I shrugged.

Flying up the next off-ramp, I braked hard and took the turnaround, getting back on the highway, southbound this time.  “We were running out of city that way anyway.” I grumbled, sulking a little bit “Still no excuse for spoiling my fun though…”  “You are truly a poor, put upon little kit.” Alice laughed, ruffling my headfur.  “Aren’t I though.” I agreed seriously, dodging around a guy doing a mere 85 in the left lane.  I couldn’t really complain though as the roads were basically devoid of furs not committing moving violations.  In less time than it probably should have taken we were creeping up on downtown again.  “Take the off ramp here.” Alice pointed suddenly, having been paying more attention to things than I had been.  (Or else having a particular destination of one sort or another in mind…)

I quickly moved across to the outside lane, catching the off-ramp with room to spare.  “Don’t be so dramatic.” I teased, noting Alice’s death grip on the car door’s grab bar “We had plenty of space… If the automotive gods didn’t spend a good bit of their time watching over me with benevolent malevolence it would have become a non-issue years ago!”  “You are incredibly bad at being reassuring, you know that, right?” Alice grumbled, not entirely annoyed, but letting me know I was certainly pushing it.  “So what’s the plan then?” I asked, changing the subject.  The surface street Alice had directed us on to really didn’t go anywhere in and of itself: it served basically as the boundary between downtown and the collection of parks and green space that it had been developed around.  It was an older road, and one which had been intentionally designed to limit traffic flow into the more recreational area: there were plenty of entries and exits on the park side, but very few to downtown.  It kept things nice, but wasn’t exactly the epitome of fast paced and exciting.

“Turn in here.” Alice grinned, pointing to a driveway with an ancient brass sign set in a field-stone base declaring it to be the entrance to the city’s ‘Botanical Gardens’.  I pulled up the steep hill, following the road through a large barrier of untended local wilds (serving as a noise break from the roads, and emerged into a small parking lot by the facility’s combined visitor center/greenhouses.  “I don’t think they’re open…” I observed a bit dryly.  “Would you expect them to be?” Alice asked patiently, but in a way that declared mine a rather…slow observation.  “Nope, I’m just not sure what it is we’re doing here…”  “Park, and I’ll show you!” she offered playfully.

I got a really good parking spot.  Being the only furs there tends to facilitate that, you see.  Wrestling the gym bag out of the back ‘pretending-to-be-a-seat’, Alice gave me a frustrated look.  “Do the seats in this thing tilt forward?” she asked in exasperation after finally managing the bag.  “If they do, I’ve never figured out how.”  “We’re putting this in the trunk when we get back.”  “There’s no room in the trunk.  I’ve a non-trivial amount of hardware mounted back there…”  “Bah.” She grumbled, slinging the gym bag and taking my paw as I beeped the lock.

“Right.  Come on,  you!” Alice announced, quickly regaining her playful mood.  Then with purposeful strides, she drug me down one of the paths radiating out from the visitor’s center.  Even with the full moon and the reflected streetlights from the highway filtering through the thick treetop canopy the pathway through the gardens was just a little bit too dark for me to make my way easily without putting my attentions mainly towards watching my footing.  Alice, however, didn’t seem to be having the least bit of trouble.  “I don’t have a clue how you’re managing to not fall flat on your face.” I grumbled as she pulled me along.  “I jog down here during lunch sometimes.” She laughed “If you got out once in a while you could do it too…”  As you might have guessed, we’d had this discussion before.

To my relief, we passed into a neatly manicured section of lawn crisscrossed by the rivulets of a recirculating stream flowing in and out of an almost quarter-acre koi pond.  In the center of the miniature lake was a small island dominated by a raised granite slab furs used for picnicking in more seasonable weather.  “I remember this spot!” I mused “I’ve watched furs down here every now and then when I’ve been stuck in traffic up on the overpass!”  “I think everyfur has at some point.” Alice agreed “One of these days they’re really going to have to do something about that downtown exit.”  “I wouldn’t hold your breath.” I laughed “It’s been like that as long as I can remember, and I’ve lived here my whole…umm, what are you doing?”

While I had been distracted Alice had led me across one of the little bridges onto the island, and was now cheerfully laying out one of the big beach towels from the gym bag.  “They heat the koi pond during the winter, so it’s nice and warm out here in the middle of it year round.” I was informed.  “You’re not serious?” I questioned with the sinking suspicion that yes, she in fact was.  “But anyfur who happens to be driving by on the highway could see!”  “Probably so, yep.” She agreed.  Having set out the beach towel to her satisfaction she began extracting the other necessary paraphernalia from the bag and neatly setting them in a line alongside the edge of the towel.  “I really don’t think this is a good idea.” I tried to explain logically.  “Oh lighten up!” Alice laughed, very much enjoying herself “Think of it this way, you were planning on being a naughty little kit tonight anyway, you’re just being a little naughtier than you thought you would be!”  I wasn’t getting out of this one.

“You look cute when you pout!” Alice smiled, reaching over and ruffling my headfur “Ineffective, but cute…”  “Are you sure you even have enough light?” I asked, thinking of one last avenue of escape.  “Got it covered!” she laughed cheerfully, holding up a handful of eight inch plastic sticks.  “I liberated a few of these from the garage while you were dragging your paws earlier.”  Snapping the separator in a couple of the glowsticks, Alice shook them for a moment to speed up the mixture of the chemicals, and our slab of rock was soon brightly (in comparison anyway…) illuminated by their greenish yellow glow.  “There!  Much better!” Alice decided, nodding her approval.  “I’m glad you’re pleased…can we go now?” I asked hopefully.  All it got me was a bemused look.  “Have you ever changed my mind after I’ve made a decision?  Besides, you wouldn’t want to waste the glowsticks now, would you?”  “No, mamma.” I sighed in my most resigned, long suffering, voice.  Just to be a brat, mind you.  It had occurred to me that even if one of the quite infrequently passing cars on the highway did happen to notice us, between the bad light and the distance chances were pretty slim they would be able to tell what was going on.  That cheered me up immensely, taking away the nervous without the naughty.

“I do believe we’re ready!” Alice announced, waving me towards our impromptu changing table.  Sitting down cross legged, I folded my paws neatly in my lap and looked at her expectantly.  “Arms up, please.” Alice began “I don’t want you getting your good clothes all wrinkly and powdery!”  The policy being established, Alice helped me off with my shirt and pants, neatly folding them and setting them aside before instructing me to lie down on the towel.

“You soaked these pretty good.” Alice observed, poking the bulging, squishy front of my diaper.  “Yeppers!” I agreed enthusiastically “I’s won!”  “I didn’t realize it was a competition.” She explained “I guess I missed the memo…”  “Pays attention then!” I chided “They sends those out for a reason!”  “Well…” she laughed, stretching out the word for about a decade “I suppose that we’ll just have to do something about that, then, won’t we?” Alice was practically purring with anticipation, quite a feat for a Canid, as she slowly and deliberately unfastened one tape at a time, counting them off in a singsong voice as she went.  “One…two…three…four!  And now we have to get the tail hole…”  “No you don’t!” I argued “You’s never gets the tail hole!”  “Not true, I get the tail hole sometimes.”  Alice defended “Besides, I don’t tell you how to do your job, do I?”  I had to concede that she was correct about that.

Having finally finished her unfastening, Alice oh so innocently turned her attentions back to the gym bag.  “Now what did I do with that baggie?” she fake-mumbled to herself “I know I’ve got a couple of them in here…no, that’s not it…hmm…”  I, meanwhile, was giving each set of passing headlights on the overpass the sort of morbid attention usually reserved for train wrecks or earthquake ravaged urban centers.  No matter what logic told me to the contrary I couldn’t seem to shake the expectation that any minute now they were going to begin to pull over so their passengers could line up along the guardrail to watch.  Somefur might even sell popcorn.

“Mommy…” I began to gear up to whine in earnest, only to be interrupted by a “Just a minute dear…” followed by some of the most beautiful words I had heard all day: “Oh! Here they are!”  Opening up the baggie, Alice dropped in the soggy diaper, carefully zipped the bag’s seal, and deposited the whole thing into the gym bag.  Then, retrieving a packet of wipes from the neatly organized line of supplies she had set out upon our arrival, Alice began to clean up my diaper area with a meticulous attention to detail.  While by the time she was done I was quite sure everything down there was as clean as they were going to get, I would have been a much less nervous little kit had Alice been just a wee bit quicker about things.

The used up wipes were soon sequestered in their own little baggie in the gym bag, and Alice began going about the careful (and time consuming....) task of getting the new diaper ‘installed’.  She had just instructed me to ‘lift up’ and was in the middle of threading my tail through the dry diaper’s tail hole when one of the sporadic sets of lights on the highway really did stop along the side of the bridge.  “Umm…Alice?  Somefur’s stopped up there!” I explained with a growing sense of panicked embarrassment.  Finishing with the tail hole, she tapped my hip gently to instruct me to settle back down atop the diaper, then turned to see where I was pointing.  “It looks like they’re changing a flat tire.” Alice decided after a moment or two “See the light on in the trunk?  Just settle down, I doubt they can see us over here anyway.”

A playfully evil grin crossed her muzzle as an idea found its way into Alice’s head and firmly took root.  “I’ll prove it, watch!”  Before I could catch her Alice jumped up on to the highest point of the stone slab and started yelling in the direction of the parked car.  “Hey, you furs on the road!  Down here!  Come take a look at my partially diapered man-kit!  His boy parts are on display, you can get a good look if you…eep!”  It had taken me a moment (that seemed like an eternity), but I was able to get a good grip on her tail and pulled Alice down next to me on the beach towel.  “What did you do that for?” she grumbled in slightly miffed innocence.  “I could ask you the same thing!” I responded in consternation.  “It was funny and you know it.” Alice sulked “See?  They’re not even there any more!”  “I’ll admit I overreacted if you admit that it wasn’t as funny as you thought…and get me a cub’s meal.  I’m hungry!”  “Done.” Alice agreed, adding as an afterthought that “We probably ought to get you finished up first though, unless you want to go like that…”

Agreeing that “It wouldn’t be my preference, no.” I lay back down and allowed Alice to finish up.  Still in no particular hurry, Alice located the jar of powder in the ‘supply lineup’ and covered everything down there in a good dusting of powdered corn starch.  “Considering the deplorable lack of clouds, that’s probably all the snow we’re going to get this solstice…” Alice joked, setting down the jar and folding up the front of the diaper.  Securely fastening, then double checking, the tapes, she announced that “Now all we need is pants!”  “Well, if you really insist…” I sighed theatrically, only to let out a high pitched “Eep!” and making a quick dive for them when Alice decided that “We don’t really need them, no…  Maybe you should go without for the rest of the evening, try something new!”

“I didn’t think so.” She laughed a minute later as I was just fastening my belt.  “You did manage to get them on quicker than I would have thought possible though…”  “Heh.” I grinned, helping pack back up the rest of the supplies.  “It’s too bad I didn’t know we would be here ahead of time, I wish I’d brought a bottle and some baby food, it would have been nice to stay a bit longer and have a little picnic or something.” She mused as she took my paw and led me back to the parking lot.  “We’re going to have to do this again sometime soon…”  “Okies!”


The closer it gets to three A.M. the more limited one’s food selections become.  Luckily for everyfur involved, all of our remaining options offered cub’s meals.  “I can’t believe you wouldn’t let me drive over to the other one.” I griped “They have little cars in theirs…”  We had settled down with our food in the mostly empty restaurant, since the nice cars all had a strictly enforced ‘No Food, Ever’ policy.  “I can’t believe you’re inflicting these wonderfully comfortable plastic seats on us.” Alice responded “You do know furs can probably hear you crinkling across the street, right?”  I just wiggled my butt defiantly on the bench, crinkling cheerfully.  “Nope.  No one else seems to notice…” I grinned before resuming mining for the little Lego kit buried somewhere in the brightly colored cardboard box in front of me.

It was probably more than a little bit counterproductive, but my attentions stayed fixated on the Lego set I’d discovered hiding under my fries, and the free soda refills.  “I’m not going to be able to get you to bed before Santa-Paws arrives, am I?” Alice sighed after the third or fourth drink.  “Nopers.” I agreed, absentmindedly.  Glaring at the pictorial instruction sheet that came with my Legos was taking a non-trivial amount of my attention, and I really wasn’t happy about it.  “If you keep making that face your muzzle is going to freeze that way…” Alice warned seriously “Why don’t you take a break and eat your food before it gets cold?”  “I think I’m missing a piece…” I groaned, ignoring her completely as I began to look around for it.  “The little bugger should be bright orange, ought to make it easier to find anyway.”

“It’s right here.” Alice noticed, retrieving the offending block from the floor and delicately setting it in the pile with the others.  “Yay!” I grinned, reaching for the pile again.  “Good little boys eat their food before it gets all cold and icky.” Alice hinted severely.  I ate.  Because I was hungry, not because of anything Alice had said.  Really.  It wasn’t a concession.

The only problem with cub’s meals is that there isn’t usually all that much food in them.  Four chicken nuggets and a bag of fries about the size of my wallet doesn’t take long at all to disappear, even with half a pint of barbecue sauce, and my meager collection of food got scarfed long before Alice had even made a perceptible dent in her snack, leaving me free to pursue the intellectual challenges presented on my carton.

Any time I’m quiet for any length of time Alice always seems to start wondering if I was getting into trouble, or otherwise needing adult supervision, and this time was no exception…looking up from the box I discovered I was being stared at.  “Does it really take you that long to do a crossword written for the three to five year old set?” she teased gently.  “It does if you use the advanced rules.” I nodded looking at her expectantly.  Alice, who knew full well I was waiting for her to ask, feigned a well developed look of obliviousness and went back to her garden wrap.  (Personally, I’ve always found it morally objectionable to sell anything with ‘garden’ or ‘wrap’ in its name at a business that’s synonymous with ‘grease’…  Alice, sadly, didn’t see it that way.)

When she decided I’d been in suspenseful anticipation long enough, Alice giggled at me over her food.  “Okay, fine.  You look like if I don’t ask your head will explode…  What are the ‘advanced rules’?”  “I forget.” I shrugged, getting up to refill my soda yet again.  “Brat!” she laughed behind me in exasperation.  I couldn’t think up a good response to that while I was getting my refill, so I just went back to my Legos on my return.  The little pirate beach was nearly done, and I figured it would probably last just about as long as the rest of Alice’s food.  That would be pretty good timing, and we could see where it went from there…

Alice had just about finished, and I had already packed away my Legos in her now somewhat overfilled purse, when a male skunk who had been eating a few tables over walked up, flipping the spare chair across from me around, and unceremoniously sat down, leaning forward with his arms across the chair back.  He was probably in his early 20s, sporting a black leather jacket with two rows of little silver snap buttons running in a line from the front edges of the slash pockets to the front zipper, and another row running across the shoulders epaulette-style.  Black jeans, motorcycle boots, and a heavy chrome wallet chain finished off the look.

“I know you.” He said conversationally, giving Alice and I a not entirely friendly grin.  “I get that a lot.” I shrugged noncommittally.  “Naw, I know your ride, that white one out front…saw you drive up north a while back…saw it out there when I was coming off the highway for gas, and I thought to myself ‘There can’t be two of ‘em floating around with those silver pinstripes across the front fender like that!’  And since I’ll probably not get another chance, I just had to make a detour…”  “So did you want something, or were you just showing off your deductive reasoning skills?” Alice snapped, not at all happy with having our little sit-down interrupted.  “Whoa, easy there…” the skunk placated, holding up his paws apologetically “I don’t mean to barge in if this is a private party!”  “Speak.” I sighed.  Alice was not a fur to trifle with if you got her in a bad mood, and I didn’t want to see the rest of our evening spoiled.

“The cross-town run?” the skunk offered.  “That’ll do, yeah.” I grinned “I’ve just got to fill up real quick…I’ll meet you back here shortly.” Alice and I were informed as the skunk went back out to the parking lot.  A minute or two later an engine cranked with a roar and a mid-eighties Skylark pulled out of the lot and down two blocks to the gas station.  “That thing?  Really?” Alice asked, more in curiosity than condescension.  “Could be.” I shrugged “It’s the lightest of the rear wheel drive platforms they did, and the motor mounts and drivetrain will take a long block with no trouble, you just have to swap the rear diff for something that will take the added torque…  Just because the paint job is rattle can primer doesn’t mean it doesn’t go like nofur’s business!”  “So why not paint it then?” Alice grumbled, just for the sake of being contrary.  “Paint’s expensive.” I shrugged, stealing one of her fries.

“Get your own!” she laughed “You wanted the toy from the cub’s meal; you should have ordered more food!”  “Yes, but I have a kind and generous mommy-fox who is always happy to share her dinner with her poor, hungry little kit…” I explained seriously “It’s the mommy’s job to make sure that her kit gets what he needs to grow up big and strong, so really it’s your fault to begin with…”  “Growing out is more like it.” She teased lightly.  “Besides, mommy was on an airplane all afternoon.  You’re lucky she could even find her way back home, let alone feed you…”  “Harrumph.” I pouted, sucking viciously on my soda straw “If I starve to death and die there will be a lot of paperwork to fill out…”  “’Starve to death and die’?  Redundant much?”  Holding a fry an inch or so from the end of my muzzle, she gave me a sly look.  “Tell you what, I’ll give you the last fry, but you have to start jogging with me during lunch!”  Quickly scooting forward, I bit the end off the fry, leaving Alice with only a little fry stump protruding from between her fingers.  “What do you say to that?” I laughed, looking incredibly proud of myself.  “Contractual acceptance by performance.” She informed me matter-of-factly, looking even more proud of herself, before bouncing the last of the fry off the end of my nose.  “Damn.” I sighed in resignation, ceding the point.

After losing my argument in such a thorough way, Alice and I went out to the car to wait for the skunk in the Skylark to return.  “So what’s the cross-town, north/south?” Alice asked reaching over to adjust the heater.  The temperature had started dropping with enthusiasm about the time we had gone in for our snack, and by now it was flirting with downright unpleasant.  “West/east.” I corrected “It’s much more interesting that way…”

“Umm…how exactly does that work?” Alice asked, a sneaking suspicion beginning to make her look a bit nervous.  “Well…” I grinned “There’s a major highway bracketing either end of downtown, so…  The way it works is that you start eastbound on 5th, and the first one to get on the other highway wins.”  “Now, you do know that…”  “Yep, right there on 5th and the access road!” I agreed “And believe me, they do not appreciate furs holding illegal street races in front of police headquarters!”


The skunk made it back from getting gas about the same time I was considering going back inside to get another drink, and in short order we were waiting out the light at the first intersection after the highway exit ramp.  Downtown was pretty sparse here for practical constraints imposed by the terrain being mostly bedrock hills this close to the river.  The lowest east/west streets curved around a lot, having been laid out in the days before the invention of the bulldozer; which really limited what one could see down the road.  Just to make things fun.

I had the windows rolled down and was listening to the Skylark’s mill churn; it had become a habit years ago…it happens to pretty much every wrencher eventually.  “You’re thinking awfully hard.” Alice accused.  “Figuring what he’s got under there.” I explained.  “Definitely a long block with a sharp cam, it has a lot of lope and doesn’t idle worth a damn…probably a quarter or half-race grind, since he isn’t having to baby it along.  Solid lifters and rockers, you can hear them clicking if you listen, and I’m pretty sure I hear an idler pulley in there, so maybe even a staged supercharger…”  “You have way, way too much free time on your paws.” Alice decided “I’m going to have to find you some chores or something for after work…”

I was past listening by now.  “This, this is going to be fun!” I grinned ferally.  Tapping my fingers on the shifter for a second, I reached a decision and poked the three-way switch below it to ‘S’.  It was very considerate of the factory to have put that there, even if I did have to teach the engine management system several new tricks before I was happy with how it did my bidding.  Feigning innocence, Alice poked it over to the third setting, a number 1 with a slash across it.  “Why does it have a ‘lose the race’ setting?” she teased.  “That locks out first gear.” I explained briefly, setting it back “It’s for driving on ice.”  “And what does ‘S’ do?”  “Anything I tell it to.” I nodded, being a brat.  “Sport.  It switches to a second, more aggressive set of engine management settings…more so after I rebuilt the system to do real-time fuel, ignition, and boost mapping.  You can make anything do anything if you swap enough parts and…Oops!”  The light changed, interrupting my train of thought.

The skunk had me coming off the line, since he had the benefit of having actually been paying attention, but I wasn’t off by all that much: he’d been overeager and smoked his tires for a second…that waste of torque cost him a lot of his potential lead.  I caught up quickly in the early, sharply curving part of the road where it followed the lines of the river before getting into downtown proper.  The skunk’s Skylark, like most older muscle cars, had a lot of weight forward, which made it difficult to maneuver in turns.  “Not much of a challenge…” Alice mused, looking out the back window at the slowly receding Skylark.  “Don’t underestimate.” I cautioned.

The road began to straighten before we hit the first of the downtown lights.  Red light.  With cross traffic.  I hit the brakes hard, and we came to a screeching stop just shy of the intersection.  Not quite instantly later, the Skylark shrieked up next to us.  Across the intersection, the first of downtown’s really large buildings loomed up over us, an echoing, sporadically lit, canyon of glass and steel.

The whole reason this game worked was because the city insisted on timing the traffic lights to be convenient for pedestrians in the bar district, and not vehicles on the road.  As we sat out the light, the lights two, three, and then four blocks down turned green.  Finally, finally our light gave in to peer pressure, and with a roar we were off again.  By now the next light down was well into the yellow, and the skunk and I were running flat out to catch it in early red.  There wasn’t actually any cross-traffic at the light, so I took the chance and floored it hard, pushing through on the barely-red.  The Skylark, a second or two behind me, lost more time when he had to swerve around cross-traffic.

The next two or three blocks were an empty straightaway, even being timed properly so that there weren’t any strategic decisions to be made.  Looming up quickly after the last light was a brightly blinking construction arrow behind a phalanx of orange traffic control barrels.  In my lane.  “Who went and put that there?” I growled, quickly making a command decision and swinging south a block, then back up behind the road closure.  The Skylark had pulled a strong lead while I’d been ‘handling road hazards’, and Alice was doing her best to permanently imprint paw prints on my car’s grab bar.

“That…was…a…one…way…street!” Alice swore through gritted teeth.  “Yeah, I know,” I nodded, deftly maneuvering around a slow moving rental car that must have gotten itself lost on the way out of the airport “all the east-west roads between the river and city hall are one way…”  “Yes, but in this case it was the other way!”  “Merely semantics.” I shrugged airily, breaking hard to stop at a very-red light.  The skunk may have scraped me off, but getting stuck himself the next light up with the sudden appearance of an armored transport in the cross traffic.  I suppose the poor furs had a lot of pickups on the evening after such a big shopping day…

“Why doesn’t he just run the red after that truck?” Alice asked, gripping her grab bar again as our light changed and we started burning up the distance between us and the Skylark.  “Against the rules.” I explained dourly “Once you stop, you’re there until it’s green.”  “It’s green.” She observed, pointing over the hood.  “Good girl!  You know your colors!” I teased gently as we passed the stationary Skylark again.  We had just about hit the end of the road too: two more intersections and a hard right, and we’d be at the highway’s on-ramp.  The skunk knew it too and was not about to give up now.  I was nominally ahead, with his front bumper even with my rear quarter panel, but I was in the left lane for a right hand turn.  Unless I could pull far enough forward to make a pass I would have to fall back and cut in behind him; it was a one lane entrance ramp, and the first fur on deck wins…

“Go down an exit maybe?” Alice suggested dubiously, quickly picking up on the dilemma we were faced with.  “Too much distance, not enough time.” I disagreed tersely “I can cut the turn sharper than he can, that’s just how it’s going to have to play out…”  It would probably even work.  Maybe.  Or I could end up getting t-boned in front of police dispatch, that was a nontrivial possibility too, actually.  Quite a bit of it depended on how good the brakes on the skunk’s Skylark were…I was counting on his disproportionately front-heavy weight distribution forcing him to be more cautious with his turns than I needed to be.

“Your ears are twitching.  Why are your ears twitching?  I’m pretty sure I don’t like it when your ears are twitching!”  “Hold on to something good and attached…” I cautioned, opening the throttle all the way.  With a roar the big V-12 surged forward, dropping down into a lower gear for a moment, then steadily winding up towards the far end of the tach.  “I’m not enthusiastic about this plan.” Alice informed me nervously “This might be a good time to reconsider…”

As we approached the last block before the access road I was pulling ahead fairly quickly, but the Skylark was proving to be hesitant to let up for the turn.  “This might get interesting in a second.” I frowned, the pedal on the floor and the car accelerating flat out.  Down to the last block and a half, then block…And the Skylark finally leaned on his brakes, decelerating rapidly in preparation for the turn.  Entering the intersection, I jacked up the parking brake while sharply cutting the wheel to the right, locking up the rear brakes while causing the heavier weight of the front end to swing into the turn, momentum overcoming the rear tires’ traction on the ground, dragging it bodily along for the ride.  The moment we were facing vaguely in the right direction I released the handle of the parking brake and slammed on the throttle, counting on the sudden application of cross-forces to overcome the centrifugal momentum and prevent us from doing a poor imitation of a top.

It worked out, though probably to my tires’ detriment, and by the time my rears hit the access road proper I’d pulled off a very impressive box maneuver which left skid marks that were sure to raise some questions (not to mention ire) when the police’s duty shift changed the next morning.  “Don’t look so pleased with yourself.” Alice got out through viciously gritted teeth “That can’t possibly have been anything but luck!”   “I’m ahead.” I pointed out simply.  “Yeah, but…”  “There’s the on-ramp.” I pointed out again, accelerating as hard as I could reasonably manage to make sure the Skylark had no opportunity to get up alongside us and try to pass.  “Yeah, but…”

Alice was still trying to think of a follow-up to ‘but’ when we hit the bottom of the ramp and started up its steep angle.  “I win!” I grinned cheerfully as we merged onto the highway.  Putting down my window, I slowed down a bit so the skunk could parallel us, exchanging waves before he took the next off-ramp to u-turn and continue on his way wherever it was that he was going.  “You didn’t flip him off, did you?” Alice asked suspiciously.  “No.” I sighed, feigning exasperation “I always forget that part, damn it…”  “You’re an ass…but I love you anyway.”  “You don’t think it will cut down on my haul from Santa-Paws, do you?” I worried.  “Well, you never know…” Alice told me seriously.


Alice insisted that it was “well past the time when good little kits should be home in bed”, and since we were already pointed in the right direction for it I tended to agree with her.  It took a while for us to make it that far Southwest again, and with the evening’s excitement behind us, Alice was soon drowsing happily, her coat draped over her like a blanket.  I couldn’t help smiling a little at that: Alice looked cute when she was sleeping…

In less time than I would have liked we were pulling up our driveway and into the garage.  “Wha?” Alice mumbled, the lights coming on in the garage having woken her up.  “We’re back home, hon…” I told her gently “It’s time to get up so you can go to bed.”  “Oh!” she said with a start, her ears perking up immediately.  With a yawn and an enthusiastic stretch she got out of the car, then reached back in and snagged the diaper bag as well.  “The seats in that thing are really not designed for a comfortable nap…” she sighed.  “Not even a little bit.” I agreed as I joined her outside the confines of the car, shucking off my heavy coat as I went.

“So, should we start moving all these boxes of yours out of here now, or wait until the morning?” I teasingly reminded her of her earlier promise.  I hadn’t really expected any sort of immediate action on the matter, so I was caught completely off guard when Alice conspiratorially informed me that “I’ll have it empty before lunch tomorrow!”  “Sure you will…” I sighed, very obviously rolling my eyes at her.  Her grin widening substantially, Alice answered by giving the stack of boxes a gentle push, at which the entire pile simply collapsed into a heap.  “They’re empty?” I questioned, quite confused by this turn of events.  “Now they are, yes.  I just pressed the empty packaging into service as decoys!”  Looking quite pleased with herself, she selected a large box from the pile and tossed it to me, proving that yes, they were in fact quite empty.

“So why have we been storing a huge pile of empty boxes, then?” I asked as we moved out of the garage and into the living room, divesting ourselves of coats, keys, the diaper bag, and various sundry other things along the way.  You could always tell when somefur was home: just look for the debris trail…  “Well, it was going to be a solstice present.” She demurred “Can it wait until tomorrow?”   “It’s been ‘tomorrow’ for about four hours you know…” I offered cheerfully.  “You can go with ‘now’, or I can just wake you up in…two and a half hours, by my watch.”  Giving me a contemplative look, Alice eventually decided that “You would, too, wouldn’t you, kit?”  “Yeppers!” I nodded vigorously “I likes presents!”

“Well…I guess it is technically the solstice now…” she mused.  We could both tell the decision had already been made, Alice was just enjoying teasing me about it.  I deserved it after earlier, I guess…  “Okay, then.  But only in the interests of me getting a good night’s sleep!”  Thinking for a second, an idea popped into her head, and Alice retrieved her scarf from the hall coat rack.  “Since you insist on being premature with it, all in all I think the easiest thing to do will be to gift wrap you instead!”  “Okies!” I nodded, complying with her motioned instruction to sit down in front of her on the floor.

Even behind me I could almost feel her grin on the back of my head, and I could certainly hear her tail swishing around behind me as she securely tied the blindfold around my head.  “Now you just sit there while I put up our coats and the diaper bag…” she teased.  I was giving a bit of thought to ‘wandering off’ as I listened to her footsteps recede down the hall (wood floors look nice, but the damn things are loud—and surprisingly fragile), but a shouted “Don’t even think about it!” from the other room snipped that idea in the bud.

“See, you can be good, at least when bribes are involved.” Alice pointed out upon her return.  “It’s always a possibility, I guess.” I agreed as she took my paw and helped me stand back up.  Then, with an anticipatory little giggle, she led me off into the house.  “That’s supposed to be my line…” I accused cheerfully “You’s a grown-up, you don’t get to have fun!”  “Oh, I disagree, little kit.  I get to have even more fun, maybe!”  “I’ve still got half a tank of gas left, we could go have some more big-kit fun…” I suggested, honestly not quite as eager as I sounded.  Hey, it wouldn’t be too much longer until the sun started to think about coming up again: I’ll be tired if I want to…I just won’t tell Alice about it!

“Or…” I heard her laugh, a tone of anticipation in her voice “We could do this instead!”  Whipping off my blindfold with a flourish that was largely lost on the fact the blindfold kept me from seeing it, Alice presented what I’d been told was to be a guest bedroom.  “It’s not like we ever have guests.” She told me matter-of-factly, looking justifiably pleased with herself.  “You got me a nursery.” I stuttered in complete shock.  “I got us a nursery.” Alice corrected cheerfully “The world doesn’t revolve around you, dearest, even if I let you think otherwise on occasion…”

The room that the paint smells had driven me to habitually avoid had been completely transformed since we had parted company: Alice had painted the walls in a shade of pastel green I never would have believed would look good on much of anything, with the lower parts of the walls having a darker shade with kind of a brushed texture that gave it a kind of grass look.  The door and window frames had been done in a dark brown, then had been used as the basis for murals of several trees painted as murals along the wall.  An entire corner of the room had an enormous flowering ivy painted trellising up the wall and spreading over part of the ceiling, the rest of which was a light blue with little fluffy clouds throughout.  The carpeting was that very dark green one finds in circuit boards, and so deep it wouldn’t surprise me if somefur could get lost in it.

The furniture, however, was the really amazing thing: I’d always heard you could get adult-proportioned nursery furniture, and I tended to believe it, since as a general rule if one is willing to pay for it there’s always somefur willing to make you anything you could possibly ask for, but I’d never really considered that I might own some eventually, let alone a whole room full!

“I went with furniture that would go with the rest of the house.  I hope that’s okay.”  She had picked out an older style for the design, and had it finished in a very light cherry tinted walnut stain.  All in all, and in a way which completely baffled me, it managed to be a fair, but more child-like, match to the rest of the furniture in the house.  “I’m guessing by the tail that you approve, but I suppose I could be misinterpreting it.” Alice told me seriously.  “Ooh…pretty…” I grinned, not even paying her a passing bit of attention as my eyes were drawn from the toy box to the changing table and the crib, then the high chair and the almost mini-bar looking sideboard, then back again.  “Thought s…oh!” Alice hadn’t gotten more than slightly done with the sentence before I had glomped her to the ground.  (She was probably glad she had gone with the high-quality deep-pile carpet at that point…)  “Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!”  “You’re welcome!  But could you ease up a little bit?  Mommy can’t breathe…”

“You can only try out two of them before tomorrow, I get to pick which two, and don’t even try to point out that technically it is tomorrow…”  “But…” I began before seeing Alice’s expression of tired firmness and thinking better of it.  “Fine…  Which two?”  “The changing table and the crib.” She explained patiently.  “I only need the crib right now.” I informed her with a serious nod. (Helped out greatly by me being tired…it cuts down on the extraneous giggling when I had to fight off yawns…)  “Well…” Alice grinned playfully, drawing the word out to length “The thing about that is…Tickle Attack!”

I quickly started backpedaling, but Alice was pretty much the reigning queen of glomping, and once she was off the ground catching her was the only option that didn’t end badly.  “Oof!” I grunted, collapsing onto the heavy-duty beanbag couch that Alice had very considerately made sure was behind us before knocking me over.  “The tickle monster is going to get you!”  “Is not!” I laughed, ineffectually trying to catch her paws.  It didn’t work so well: Alice was simply a whole lot quicker than I was.

It didn’t take long for Alice to have me giggling uncontrollably while failing miserably to squirm out from under her.  The beanbag couch was a cunning trap it would seem: it was deep enough to make escape difficult without having an excitable (not to mention attractive…) vixen doing her level best to prevent it.  “You’re not going to win, you know.” She informed me cheerfully “I always get my way, I’m just special like that, you know that by now!”  “Nopers!” I managed to gasp out between giggles.  “Oh come on…” she wheedled “You can barely breathe, how exactly am I not going to win?  Hmm?  Hmm?”  Barely managing to gulp some air between giggles, I just shook my head in defiance.  “See, now you’re just being an argumentative little kit just for the sake of being disagreeable.” She sighed in mock severity “I can do this all night if that’s what it takes, you know!”

As it turned out, it didn’t take nearly that long: I had just managed to finally catch her paws when her tail snuck up behind me and bonked me on the end of my muzzle.  Caught completely off guard by the muzzlefull of fluffy red-orange fur, I felt my bladder release and my diaper was quickly conquered by a soggy, warm, dampness.  “That’s a good little boy.” She told me gently, letting up on the tickle barrage “Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”  “No mamma.  Not hard, just being a brat.”  “That does sometimes happen when you’re up past your bedtime.” Alice agreed.  Then, scooching around a little so she didn’t have me pinned under her full weight any more, she gave me a slow, gentle kiss on the muzzle, finally reluctantly pulling away and sitting back up again.

“It’s really late.” Alice sighed, feeling the duty to represent the responsible adult position on things “We should get you changed, then both of us desperately need to get some sleep by now or else it’s likely going to be time to get up for breakfast before we’ve even settled down for bed…”  “Is that really such a bad thing?” I wondered, idly batting at the end of Alice’s tail.  “Do you really want to?” she chided gently.  “No, not really.” I admitted, stifling a yawn.  “Well then, it seems that we have reached a conclusion…” she nodded, patting our shiny new changing table invitingly “Why don’t you go ahead and hop on up and let’s try this thing out.  How’s that sound?”  “Good, with the caveat that I’m not going to be ‘hopping’ anywhere right now.”

“We can work around that.” Alice decided “We’re already going to have to get your clothes dry-cleaned, so you may as well just climb on up…”  Looking down I discovered she was right about the clothes, so with a shrug I did as I was told.  The changing table had a little stepping stool neatly tucked up underneath it, which turned out to allow me to get up on it without trouble, yet have the table be tall enough to actually be useful.  It was nice and comfy too, with a thick but firm top pad and a synthetic material covering that I had the suspicion was probably waterproof, or at least easy-cleanup despite not feeling like plastic.  The cover was a nice light green color with a subtle geometric pattern to it, which, glancing over, I noticed seemed to be a pretty good match to the rest of the upholstery.

Alice rolled over an almost dresser-looking little supply cabinet with a very pleased smirk.  “They didn’t have anything like this at the place I ordered the furniture from, so I drew up the plans myself.  The company liked them so much that they traded me a free one for production rights.”  “Oh, is that why my drafting stuff was all disorganized and scattered around the office last month…” I sighed “Some of that stuff is pretty delicate you know.”  “It wasn’t as bad as all that.” Alice defended, blushing.  “Yes it was.” I teased “It took me an hour to sort that mess out, and I ended up having to replace some of the micro pens because you didn’t put them back in the jar pointy end down so they wouldn’t dry out and get clogged!”  It was so infrequent for me to catch Alice doing something naughty that I was planning to run with this as far as I could get it to go…  “It’s not like they are particularly expensive” I chided as she took off my shoes and was unfastening my belt “but I have to order them, and they take forever to get here, and I can’t get things done while I’m waiting for…”  Pulling off my pants, Alice folded down the front of my diaper, then interrupted me mid-lecture by whispering in my ear that “I can see your thingy!”

Along with blushing enthusiastically I also completely lost my train of thought, simply trailing off midsentence.  “Works every time!” she grinned wickedly “I love having a ‘mute’ button!”  “Not fair.” I pouted as she unbuttoned my shirt and slipped it out from under me, adding it to the ‘to iron’ pile.  “It’s perfectly fair.” She disagreed “There’s nothing unethical about finding an advantage and exploiting it…”  Slipping the wet diaper out from under me, Alice, still looking pleased with herself, got a package of wipes out of her supply table and efficiently cleaned everything up down there.  “Going to install an independent thermostat in here.” I grumbled, shivering a bit at the application of cold wipes to sensitive areas.  “I was thinking about that.” Alice agreed “But I couldn’t come up with a way to have the duct work done without you getting involved and finding out about all this early.”  “Well now I know, so let’s see about getting an HVAC crew in here before my tail freezes off!” I grumbled.

“Oh, you’re just being a cranky kit because it’s late and you’re tired.” She explained patiently “Though I don’t disagree with the sentiment.”  “Yeah…” I sighed, lifting up so she could slide a fresh diaper up under me and get the tail-hole taken care of.  Tapping my hip gently, she motioned me back down, promptly folding over the new diaper’s front and fastening the tapes.  Once everything was squared away to her satisfaction, she nodded happily and took my paw, leading me to the crib and showing me how to work the latch that let the side panel fold down.  “It’s kind of big…” I mused as I climbed up into it and gave everything a critical once over.  “For one maybe.” Alice explained “But if you think for a second I’m giving up cuddling just because I got you a crib…”  “Oh.” I nodded happily, that having mostly taken care of my one reservation about the idea.  You can’t replace cuddling with furniture, that just goes without saying.  “Now don’t go anywhere.” Alice grinned, snapping up the crib’s side “I’ll be right back, I just have to go change for bed.”

That brought up a point actually, I realized.  Usually I had a sleeper or a pair of jammies during the winter when Alice and I played, and since we hadn’t turned up the heat any more than usual I was starting to get a little bit chilly lying there in just a diaper.  While I was debating the merits of turning up the heat or getting something bearing a greater resemblance to clothing Alice returned, having changed into a long nightshirt and, I assumed, panties.  “You look mildly troubled.” She observed.  “It’s a little bit cold, I was thinking about poking the thermostat.” I explained.

“It’s intentional actually.” She explained, opening the closet and pulling out a truly enormous blanket, easily thicker than a good quality sleeping bag.  “I couldn’t help buying this.” She grinned “I can’t decide if it’s some kind of mutant blanket, really fluffy mattress, or the world’s biggest pillow…”  “Ooh…Big fluffy thing…” I grinned excitedly “I likes big fluffy things!”  “I thought you might approve.” Alice nodded seriously “It seemed the sort of thing that might attract your attention…”  “Gimmie!” I interrupted eagerly, stretching up over the crib’s railing to reach for it as best I could without falling over “Gimmie!  Gimmie, gimmie, gimmiegimmie!”  “Hey!  No! Down, boy!”  Alice admonished, the sternness in her tone very much genuine this time “We both know very well I’ve taught you better than that!”  “Please?” I corrected almost plaintively, obviously chastised, my ears drooping down and my tail curling under me submissively.  I’ve never seen Mommy Alice angry, and I planned on keeping it that way.  Not because I though she would ever blow up at me, but, well, because it hurt me somewhere down deep inside to see her disappointed in me.  I was still trying to figure that one out: love is complicated, I guess.

“Better.” Alice nodded, before trying to drape the huge blanket over me.  I say ‘tried’ because in practice it was having none of that nonsense, thanks all the same.  “Bit off more than you can chew?” I giggled, doing my best to be helpful.  “It’s starting to look that way…” she nodded “But don’t worry, I valiantly refuse to lose to a blanket!”  “You should know that I’m fighting down the urge to push it right back out again.” I explained to her seriously.  “I appreciate your restraint, especially since you would find yourself sleeping out in the yard for a week, and I wouldn’t have anyfur to cuddle!”  “Good point, well made.” I agreed, hauling in the last of the blanket.  “They always are…”

The blanket turned out to make a fantastic basis for an igloo, and I had just about gotten everything sorted out when Alice burrowed her way in next to me and pointed out that “While it’s quite cozy in here I think we’ll have to convert it back to bedding now, it’s just not very conductive to sleeping this way.”  “Aww…” I sighed “But I just got the last of the building permits finalized!”  “I know, I know…I’ll help you rebuild it tomorrow, but it was officially bedtime many, many hours ago, so…”  I was tired out anyway, so I didn’t put up a fuss as Alice pulled it back off our heads and instead tucked things in properly.

Turning off the light on the ‘nightstand’, I felt her take me in her arms and snuggle up tightly next to me before groaning.  “I forgot your paci in the other room.” She explained, sounding more than a little reluctant to have to get up to get it.  “S’okay.” I yawned, finding one of her paws in the dark and popping her thumb in my muzzle, just as happy with that arrangement as the other.  “Anything’s fine as long as the oral fixation is satisfied, I guess.” She giggled.  “Yeppers.” I mumbled, already mostly asleep and not really listening any more.  Alice was soft and fuzzy and warm, so really there wasn’t anything else that needed attention.  “Well, until the morning, my little kit…”  “Or the afternoon…” I mumbled back.  But Alice was already fast asleep.