Chapter ONE

July 21, 2008

"Flying squirrels are the most popular squirrels in Ohio.  Most people don't know this because flying squirrels are nocturnal, only foraging at night.  They also-" I faded out. 

"-ll know what to do about it when we get there.  This is not a common reaction, I'm telling you.  It's supposed to take days to-" I was back in for a moment, but... 

"-ash cart he's coding!  <mumbled shouting and confusion>  Try it again!  Set it to-"  This time I'm floating over me and the doctors and nurses are trying to get me going again.  I can clearly see the problem:  There's a squirrel thingee stuck to my hand, and it's not letting go of me.  It needs to go for me to get better and it simply won't go

I realize in some small part of my brain that I'm likely delusional at this point, but that part gets washed away by the struggle.  I'm (floating me) trying to get the squirrel off of me, but she's (don't ask me how I know, I just do.  When you have a psychotic delusion of your own, you can change it if you like) not having any of it.  Every time they shock me (us) we both get weaker.  I think I'm fading faster than she is, but I can't be sure. 

I've never been all that healthy, but I'd been getting better for the last few months - getting pushed around by a girl will do that for most guys.  (Long story.  I'll tell you later)  I was being rewarded by my family for my efforts - okay, also so that my brothers could spend some time with us before they went back to college.  Okay, okay:  Derek would be going back to college.  BIlly would be starting his first year of college.  NYU.  Neat. 

Anyways, I'm trying to get this squirrel out of me, and she's trying to stay inside.  It dawns on me (or maybe we're 'talking' at this point?) that if she leaves she'll die.  My fevered brain not wanting me to die, we (my brain and I) propose that she stay, but she'll need to let my body do what it needs to do to live. 

She thinks about it for awhile (I understand that your brain w*rks much faster than your mouth can, and even faster when you're dying) then decides to allow it.  We kind of... melt?... together:  She and I become Me

My fevered brain w*rks overtime on this whole fantasy thing while I try to recover from my ordeal. 

My ordeal? 

*sigh* 

Fine.  Just remember:  You asked. 

We were camping, all of us, on one of Dad's buddy's (buddie's?  Nope.  Let's just say 'friend's' and be done) properties.  It had the benefit of not having any of the amenities of camping on a certified campground. 

It was set back in the woods so far that they had to ship the sunlight in on horses.  Seriously, it took us over an hour to walk there.  We set up our tents and got the campfire going, then my brothers and I went swimming, whooping it up like a bunch of, well, teenagers.  (it's okay, you can laugh.  As smart as I am, and I've been told many times that I'm too smart, I still say stupid things from time to time) 

We're just climbing out of the water when something comes flying at me from the corner of my eye.  I do a spastic sort of lurch to the side and throw my hands up to try and block, or something. 

I feel a small sharp something hit my hand, then sort of explode at the end of my arm.  I'm just getting warmed up to start screaming when Dad's suddenly there.  The flashlight he's swinging comes that close to cracking open my head, and then the explosion is all over. 

This doesn't stop me from screaming, mind you.  Like a little girl, too.  There's a little pain, but I'm mostly in shock, so I'm not really feeling it.  It's mostly that it happened at all, and was so violent, that gets me.  Well, that, and the blood

My hand is a big, red, pulpy mess.  I've got bits and strings hanging off of it and the blood's just pouring off it in a steady stream.  Everybody's pulling me around, trying to help me out.  It just adds to the confusion I'm feeling, but I do appreciate the sentiment. 

Dad finally gets some sort of order going as he puts his phone away.  Mom's going to lead me back to the car while they (the rest of them) take the camp down.  They'll catch up with us en route, and then we'll get to the hospital. 

This sounds great to me, and I just notice that Mom's gotten my hand all bandaged up while I was screaming. 

Actually, I'm still screaming. 

I should stop that now. 

Have you ever noticed how sometimes when people realize how stupid they're being that they don't usually just stop it, immediately?  No, they'll just kind of wind it down and eventually sort of try to get the Earth to swallow them.  Doesn't usually w*rk for them, I've noticed. 

Doesn't really w*rk for me, either.  (okay, I've got a little problem.  I've been conditioned so that certain words don't ever leave my mouth.  Happens when I'm thinking too, apparently) 

(And w*rk is a four letter word that should be used with the same caution for audiences as the rest of them.  Just sayin') 

*

Dad

Situations like this you're always tempted to leave sh- stuff... to save time, but it never pays in the long run.  I set Derek and Will to getting the tents down while I pack the rest of everything in the carryalls and duffels.  There's only going to be three of us packing this out, and we'd been loading heavy, but there's no help for it:  We need the gear, so we need to pack the gear. 

Will stops what he's doing for a minute and starts hacking at a sapling.  I'm about to yell at him when his plan comes to me: 'Travois'.  I tell Derek to save the line from the tents and one of the ground cloths for the construction.  The whole deal adds maybe five minutes to the start time, but we'll make that up in a hurry, especially with all of us to rotate out. 

Turns out that catching up with Lily and Eric doesn't take as long as I'd hoped.  "What happened?"  Eric is on the ground, moving feebly.  I move over to help him up. 

"He just collapsed a minute ago.  He had not been moving all that quickly, but I was not too worried because I knew you three would be along shortly and that you would maybe carry him?  He is still breathing and does not appear to be in any overt distress, although-" 

I stopped her.  "You did great, Petal.  We really do need to get to the car in a hurry, though.  Boys?  Please help your brother onto the travois.  Lily-fair?  Could you move on up ahead a ways and find us a smoother route to the car than the one we took in?  Let's get shaking, people!" 

The only overt sign of Lily's distress is her precision of speech.  I love this girl, I really don't think I could have gotten anywhere without her.  It's important in a time of stress to have something - anything - to do. 

So I barked orders to my family like my old drill Sergeant and got us going.  I am worried about Eric:  He was never the most robust of us and if I hadn't seen the attack, I'd be swearing that the squirrel had poisoned him somehow.  The boys have Eric strapped in good and tight - a few tugs attested to it - so I grab the front of the travois and start off. 

"Will.  Go relieve your Mother at the front and find me a good path.  I really don't want to have to haul this lardas- your brother - up one of those verticals if I don't have to."  He moves off.  "Derek.  Make sure you stay close to me:  You're up after I'm done."  He nods. 

Wow.  I must be stressing out if I'm reverting to my old speech patterns.  Best get that under control before Lily gets back.  She'll rip a strip off of me and lash me with it.  And I'll deserve it. 

'God, I hate this.  It's one thing if you're expecting trouble, but another entirely if you-' 

*

Derek

Eric's given up on the thrashing.  Even the weak stuff he'd been trying while Billy and I'd tied him down was over.  Now he just looks pale and weak.  Okay:  Paler and weaker.  I smile a little until I see Mom coming back to walk with Dad.  What the fu- I look at Mom quickly - fudge was up with that furball? 

Was it rabid or something?  I think they can check it if they've got the body of the animal.  Did anyone grab it?  "Dad, did anyone grab the squirrel that got Eric?" 

He nods.  "Plastic bag.  Coat pocket.  Rabies?"  I nod, and he nods again, saving his breath. 

Okay.  Good on Dad, thinking about the carcass like that.  I wonder what Billy's thinking about up ahead?  Not much else to do up th- 

*

Billy

That won't work at all, the stream shows promise, but it'll just mean a wet, slimy climb.  Eric needs it to be smoother.  Is that a tire track?  I thought that vehicles didn't go out this way:  Isn't that what Dad'd said?  He probably just wanted to make it a bit tougher for us. 

'Thanks, Dad.'  I smile.  Eric could certainly use the conditioning.  Butterball weighs more than I do, and I play football!  Tch.  Played football.  Past tense.  Going to New York University this Fall.  I don't really know what I'll be studying when I get there, but that's where I'll decide it. 

No local school for me, I'm going to one of the best I can manage without getting Mom's hopes up.  I've got some scholarships, and I could have gone to play football for someone (not that I did well enough for everyone to come out and scout me, mind you), but I don't want to be a football player.  My brain works well enough for that to be off the table. 

No military for me, either.  Dad seems to have done well enough with it, but he's not exactly... encouraging the idea either.  I hope that Eric comes through this alright.  Hot dam- 'Is Momma watching?' Damn.  There is a road here!  I signal to Dad and start trotting up the hill a ways.  It looks like it'll go near enough to where we need to be. 

I jog over to Dad, "There's a road that looks promising.  You want me to run ahead to the car and drive it down here?" 

Dad just nods, and he's looking rough.  Probably doesn't have enough air to speak.  I glance at Derek, but he just shakes his head at me.  Okay.  I start running off towards the road, and hope to be able to get the car here soon.  Eric really looks bad. 

'God?  I know that you're supposed to be watching over us, but this is William:  I was wondering if I could talk to you a bit about my brother, Eric?  You see, he's-' 

*

Mom

Billy goes running off after the car, and I hope he gets back with it soon.  I'm not even going to give Jake any flack over this.  Of course there's a road that leads us to almost where we were headed.  I've no doubt that my Jake even planned it so that if something were to happen, that there'd be an easy access to get us out in a hurry. 

Mom didn't want me going after him.  "You stay away from that Robinson kid, I'm telling you!  I don't want my daughter sniffing after some low class war-child.  You just find yourself a nice boy from our neighborhood and-"  I don't want to think about the rest of it.  My older sister - 'Lord, remember her' - died in chldbirth, everyone overlooking the signs of recent abuse on her body from her husband. 

My Jake has never raised his hand to me.  Never talked bad of me, even when I'd told him that I was actually a year younger than he'd thought I was.  We'd gotten married just as soon as I could, and it was all Daddy could do to sign the papers before Mom found out.  We were married and out of the state before she'd known what I'd done. 

She still doesn't want anything to do with my family.  How can parents do that to their children?  I don't know what would have to happen for me to just sign off on one of my kids.  They're all gifts from God. 

And that was the argument that Jake used against me when I wanted to name Derek something biblical meaning 'Gift of God'.  They're all gifts.  Every child. 

Especially Eric. 

I'd had problems with Billy, and the doctors all said that he'd ruined me, that I wouldn't - couldn't - have another child.  Four years later and there's Eric!  My baby.  I'd been hoping for a girl to round things out:  But at this point, I really don't know if I'd know how to raise one. 

Eric does seem to have emptied the well, though.  Jakey's willing to try, but God hasn't seen fit to give me any more.  It's His will, and I know that He knows what He's doing.  I still get frustrated sometimes. 

'Lord, please help us!  We need You!  Please be with Eric!  I know he's a good boy, and You alw-' 

*

Dad

'This is stupid, Jacob.  You're being stupid.  Just let the boy take over, already.  You're tired and you're getting slower now.  Your boy is strong enough to spell you for a mile or three, and he's concerned enough to need to do something.  Just let him take over already!' 

My squadmates always hated arguing with me.  They'd never won:  Said I was too stubborn.  I'd never thought I was, though:  I was just right

I see it nowI can't even win against me.  All of my arguments are sound, and I have no response to them.  My body, however, is simply not listening to reason today.  I'm over forty, Derek's less than half my age and still in shape from his days in high school.  Soccer, cross country, baseball, and... I know I'm forgetting a few of them. 

No matter.  I just have to keep one foot in front of the other until I hear the car coming.  It won't be long now, just a few more steps. 

Lily looks like she's in prayer.  I mentally tell her to add a few for me, and I hope she does.  Can't spare the breath to ask her, though. 

I think I hear the car coming, and actually stop to listen for it.  All I can hear, though, is my labored breathing.  I have to motion Derek over to take the poles, because I think I'm going to pass out. 

*

Derek

Dad stops all suddenlike, and I scramble to stop in time.  He waves the poles at me and I rush to take them as he almost passes out.  I'm getting ready to say something when I hear the car.  It's only a moment until I can see it, too.  Mom pushes me to the side and grabs Dad to help him over, too. 

Billy comes cautiously around the corner and stops the car.  He springs out and helps me get Eric in the back seat.  Dad gets in the driver's seat and rests a moment while Mom starts loading the trunk with everything we'd brought.  I chuckle a little as she tries to get the saplings into the trunk. 

"Derek Todd Robinson!  You stop laughing at your Mother this instant!"  Mom's pretty intense about people making fun of her.  She slams the trunk closed and glares at me all the way to the front seat. 

Her door's not even fully shut and Dad guns the engine.  This is his car, and it's a bit old.  I have a truck, a full 4x4, and I wouldn't want to try some of the things he's doing in this antiquated POS.  (I've had friends - close friends, some of them - who laugh at me for flinching and ducking when I curse.  They don't understand how much the woman hates the language.  She actually considers it another - fouler - language.  You might laugh, too.  But she's glaring at me for thinking about that word.  You are hereby warned) 

Dad's running the car like a madman:  Trees are whipping by, and he's sliding back and forth along the 'road' to avoid what he can of the potholes.  The ride is smooth, though.  And we're moving a bit faster than we did coming in.  Billy's looking like he's gonna puke, like he remembers how hard it was to get the car down here.  It's not five minutes before we're back on the road. 

He's got his cell out of his pocket and dialing before the car stops rocking from our sudden entrance. 

"I am Jacob Robinson.  I am en route to the hospital with my son, who has been bitten by a flying squirrel.  He has since collapsed.  We've carried him to the car and are now en route.  Please to have emergency personnel at the doors to greet us.  Once again-" 

Dad's always been a bit... weird.  He- heck.  Most of my family's weird in one way or another.  Dad's the nicest, friendliest, funniest person you're likely to meet.  He'll help you any time you ask, no questions, no discussion of payment.  Unless you mess with us. 

Some punks (at the time, I just thought they were guys, but I know better now) were hanging around the doors to JCPenny.  Just hanging out.  We were walking in to get me some sweat pants because I'd grown out of my old ones.  One of the boys made a kissing noise at my mother as she walked past. 

Dad didn't hesitate, he got right up in this kids face and just stared him down.  They all of them backed away from us and we continued on inside.  Mom even scolded him for his attitude, and Dad took it. 

When we got out a few minutes later, one of them - not the original speaker, might I add - made just one comment about how fine Mom looked.  It was crude, and it made her blush. 

The next moment in time Dad was holding this kid up - by his throat - next to, not against, the wall.  He very calmy looked at the rest of them and they scattered.  He then turned to talk to the boy he held there. 

I don't know what he said to him - Billy and I shared a laugh when Secondhand Lions came out - but it moved the kid enough that he stopped hanging out in front of the store. 

Anyways, that's my Dad. 

Mom's got this multiple personality thing going on... I don't know how else to say it.  She is:  Mother - the helpful, never flustered ruler of the house;  Mrs. Robinson - the over organized controller of everything in her area (true story:  I'd brought my girlfriend over to the house on our way somewhere else.  She started to freak out when she saw where we were going, and I mean she freaked out.  She started trying to get her hair and makeup together in the car with like, thirty seconds until we hit the driveway.  She started crying when I didn't drive right by the house and hid on the floor until I drove us away.  I got an earful about how we were through and what a bastard I was for bringing her to my Mother without warning her first.  That's the reputation my Mother has);  Harridan - the ever watching, all knowing judge of children. 

There are many others, like the one that makes Dad go all silly some mornings.  But right now she's using his phone to dig up information on flying squirrels, just reading it out loud in case anyone is interested. 

Eric's looking pale, and he's not breathing much.  "Dad," I start, looking up to see us pulling swiftly (yet still gently) into the hospital's emergency circle.  There's a bunch of people moving towards the car before it's even stopped, and I'm pulled out of the way so they can get to Eric faster.  I stand straight up and start to move to the doors but they're already gone inside before I can take two steps. 

"Well.  Derek, go park the car.  Will?  Go check with the cafeteria and see about some coffee or tea and some doughnuts or something while we wait.  Lily-fair?  Let's go in." 

*

Dr. Stephanie Rivers

"Get the crash cart he's coding!"  I step back to allow the cart my place as Dr. Forbes grabs for the paddles.  Everyone's shouting something or another and I just try to stay out of the way and absorb.  Interns don't get much respect. 

And we really don't deserve much.  My first day here I almost killed a guy because I hadn't checked his sheet to see what he was allergic to.  I'd stayed up all night cramming and trying to remember things that might impress my colleagues. 

I did make an impression, but it wasn't anything that I'd want anyone to remember. 

I keep getting distracted at work, especially when I get tired.  Lately I've been seeing things that don't actually exist:  Odd shadows roaming the halls;  A darkness clouding one end of the hall just before the power went out;  And most recently, I saw my patient leave his room as the alarm told us he was coding.  We didn't get him back. 

It's not something I can share with anyone, you know?  How quickly would I be out of the job I'd worked for for the last eight years? 

But I could very clearly see the patient, a young male, arguing with a rat sitting on his wrist.  It seems like he's trying to convince the rodent to shove off, but the little rat won't budge.  I'm torn between observing like I always do, and stepping in and trying to help. 

I don't know how I'd help in this situation, so I keep my mouth shut.  'Yup, Steffi:  Just keep yer trap closed and things'll be better for you.'  I tell myself. 

I'm not sure why my inner voice speaks in a kind of Texan accent, but she does.  One more item of craziness to keep to myself, I guess. 

Anyways, they make an agreement of some sort or another and the furry beast just kind of melts into his wrist.  He sort of glows a little and then fades into his body, too.  I rub my eyes as Dr. Bensom (my mentor) turns to me, smiling. 

"Did you catch anything?"  He's looking at me expectantly and I panic.  'How does he know I've been seeing things?' 

I realize that he's just wondering if I saw the procedure they used to save the boy's life.  I smile and nod, "It was great, but I'm really tired.  I know I've got to get used to twelve hour shifts, but I'm just not there yet."  He nods, and I'm off the hook. 

I make sure to catch the boys name so I can check in on him later. 

 

Chapter TWO

July 30, 2008 

Dr. John Hobbes

This is unusual:  It doesn't look exactly like rabies. 

"What's that, doctor?" 

"I'm sorry.  Was I thinking out loud, again?"  She nods, "Sorry.  I was just thinking that this rabies case looks interesting.  It has all the hallmarks of rabies, but some extra things as well.  I wonder if it's maybe crossed with something a little speedier, like the flu?  It does look like-" 

Huh.  She wandered off before I got into it.  Oh, well. 

It does kind of look like the-

*

Waking up in a hospital bed has to be the worst.  At least:  If there is something worse that this, I don't want to know about it.  Okay.  Thank you, brain.  Yes.  Waking up in the middle of surgery would be worse.  You can stop, now. 

I have tubes in me.  Tubes.  In meIn.  I'd like to hyperventilate, but the machine that's breathing for me won't let me, so I think I'll just pass out. 

*

Bily

Wow.  No wonder Mom won't go to see him anymore.  I'm trying to imagine what she'd do to me or Derek if we'd started to talk like that.  I don't think it was all words, either.  Some of it just sounds like an animal sort of barking. 

Thank the Lord he's finally awake.  I mean, 'awake and alert'.  Not just whatever state he'd been in while he was shouting obscenities at everyone. 

Almost two weeks he's been out, and I finally get to make the call.  Dad insisted that someone be here when he wakes up.  I don't think it's a bad idea, I just wish there were more of us to share the burden. 

Oh!  'Thank You, Lord.  Be with us, and help in Eric's recovery.  Amen.' 

I gotta go call Mom and...  Why is that nurse looking at me? 

*

Throat hurts.  I guess that's a good thing:  You have to be alive to feel pain, right?  I have a little pain, and a complete lack of energy.  I think I'd rather have more pain, as long as I'd have energy to go with it. 

Ow!  (okay:  More like 'Ow'.  Better than 'Ow.', I guess)  The nurse pulls the needle out of my arm and pushes a button on the console.  I couldn't protest around the tube in my throat even if I wanted to, but... 

Oh.  That machine makes me sleepy... 

*

Dad

The 'doctors' don't know what's wrong with him.  It can't be rabies:  It happened too quickly for rabies.  They're doing all of the things to treat rabies and they're not working.  Eric's not been awake for long, and the shots just put him under more

The head doctor is a nutjob - some sort of 'genius', they say.  What the hell (sorry, Lily) is he doing here?  This town isn't exactly centrally located for importance, you know?  That's why I brought my Lily here in the first place. 

"Doctor?  A moment?"  He looks up at me and nods.  I sit down across from him (I cornered him in the cafeteria so he couldn't just scamper off and leave me hanging), and look at him.  He looks tired, which is good and bad.  Good becuse it means that he's been staying up and working.  Bad because the quality of that work is likely less than it would be if he'd gotten sleep. 

"Mr. Robinson?"  *nod*  "I don't have any fresh answers for you, except that the treatment does seem to be working.  Not as fast as any of us would like, but...  Here," he shows me the file he's looking at, "It's not a normal rabies virus:  It seems... supercharged somehow.  It's attacking faster, and moving faster than we'd hoped, but it also seems to be weaker, if that makes any sense to you.  It's not doing as much damage as a normal virus would.  It's also setting up shop, in a way that the original virus really doesn't. 

"It's almost like someone's been playing around with the rabies virus, and it got away from them somehow.  I'm not su-  Why are you looking at me like that?" 

"'Playing around'?  Why would someone play around with a rabies virus?"  I'm trying to stay calm, but this... 'doctor'... isn't helping.  He's a bit beyond 'egghead' and encroaching on the active/stupid category. 

"Oh!  Sorry.  Cal's always telling me to...  Not important now.  *ahem*  Someone might be 'playing' with it in order to better understand how virii mutate.  It would also aid in treatments, and - in most cases - the risk of contamination would be minor.  It's just a series of bad coincidences that the animal escaped, and then infected your son." 

He must have seen my face, because:  "I'm not saying that I condone the actions of whoever is responsible, I was just answering your question!  It's things like this that remind me why I didn't go into research myself.  This, and...  *ahem*  Sorry." 

"It's working?"  *nod*  "He's getting better?"  *nod*  "How long?  Eric has school, and if he's not going to be better in time..." 

"Shouldn't be a problem.  MIddle of the month, give or take a few days." 

Middle of the month.  Huh. 

Better go tell Lily.  She'll want to know. 

 

Chapter THREE

August 26. 2008

"Hey Eric!" 

I turn around to see Matt sliding over to me.  Matt  Sciorisio, or something like that.  I can barely say it, and I'm not sure even he can spell it.  Okay, that's a blatant lie.  Matt's not stupid, no matter what I say to pick at him.  His Father wouldn't let him slide on ecucation, not when it could be damaging to his career. 

Matt's dad is a Lawyer (capitalized for a reason), and everyone here knows that you don't get in the way of a lawyer whose name ends in a vowel. 

Matt's a good guy, and he's the one who'd introduced me to Jimmy (my other friend).  He's a sort of wiry Italian kid with a goofy grin most days, and those weird Steve Buscemi sort of eyes.  His Dad has them, too, but his Dad carries them off better.  Probably all the practice he's gotten. 

"Jimmy and I are gonna go to the dance on Friday.  You in?" 

We're not gay, or anything: we just like the music.  And the girls.  And the Watching Of The Girls Dancing.  So we'll hang out and watch the girls.  Oh, yeah. 

Back to music:  The DJ club at school plays all sorts of music at the dances, so if you like different types of music (we most certainly do) then dances sponsored by the DJ club are a great thing.  "Sure, I'm in.  After the game, neh?" 

He nods at me and we walk in to geek central, otherwise known as the Band corridor.  Matt's not in the Band, but he does like the music we play.  He just sits in the auditorium while we practice, or (sometimes) stands by the fence while we march. 

The Band is serious in these parts.  We play at the football games, sure - but it doesn't matter what they're doing out there.  Many people come to the games just to watch us.  Seriously:  Go to a game, and wait until after halftime.  About a third of the people there will leave after we're done.  We are The Best D*mn Band In The Land. 

No tricks, no flashy choreography or flash-in-the-pan current music.  We're all about the music.  There was a movie a few years back, called Drumline.  'One Band, One Sound.'  I understand that they used a lot of high school bands for the competition.  Heh. 

Okay, enough of that.  I have a problem in that - having been in the hospital until three days ago - I didn't make Band Camp.  I barely got the things I need for school together. 

I can (and shortly will) learn the music without pausing, really.  But I won't know the marching routines until I practice them a bit. 

So I'll be sitting this game - and maybe another one - out.  *sigh* 

After Band is English, second period.  I think I speak English pretty goodly, but the rules state that you need four credits of English in order to graduate.  I've given thought to just taking them all at once and getting it over with.  I'm not much in the mood for fighting the administration, so... 

This isn't a big school, and you get used to seeing a lot of the same faces as you walk the halls.  This is especially true when you get to Honors.  There aren't that many students, and (natch) fewer Honors brats. 

In larger schools, you'd probably split the Honors class into band and non band groups, then schedule accordingly.  You need to change that when you don't have enough Honors students to support this. 

Many of the Honors students are in the Band.  Most of these students would willingly drop to a lower class to stay in the Band.  Imagine if you will:  A snobby dozen kids walking the halls and acting all smart and whatnot, and they run into the Beakers (comes from BQ, or Band Queer).  While there are a good many young brains out there who aren't in the Band, we'd so outnumber them. 

So:  In order to keep blood off the walls (not really, but it'd be a hit to their delicate psyches) they just put fluff as the first period and move the needed and harder stuff until later.  There are Seniors who don't come to school until after lunch - there's just nothing for them to do in the morning. 

Well, those Seniors not in the Band, I guess. 

Which means I didn't meet the new student as early as some others did.  Darla Cummins (I swear to you that I'm not making this up).  She's the sort of girl that makes guys think of things other than school. 

Her Dad's in the Air-Force, and so she's been bopping about the world going from school to school instead of staying put and making a steady core of friends.  She's also missed a few classes, and couldn't meet the requirements to be in the class that she (by age) should have been in.  Therefore:  She's about a year older than the rest of the class. 

The rest of the class is about a year (or two, to be honest) older than me.  So she's two (three) years older than me.  This isn't me bemoaning my youth or lack of attachment to a girl:  I don't bemoan not having a girlfriend (I wouldn't turn one away if she asked, mind you).  Many of the girls in Honors are attractive (actually, that applies to the whole school, but lets just stay with what we have, hmm?), and I know I don't have a decent chance with any of them. 

I could go back a year and try to score a girl who's a relative idiot (that sounds harsh.  I don't mean it to be harsh - I really don't.  Honors is ahead of the curve.  I'm ahead of my age group.  I would - no doubt - learn a few things about the world I live in, but I'd have to stave off the Boredome of inane conversations just to get to the few bits I can use.  Not worth it)

(and keep sex out of it, sicko.  I'm not going to cheapen things by rushing them.  Christian, thank you) 

(and I don't think I'm developed enough, there.  I read about all these things that don't really interest me.  I'd just like to find a girl to talk to, and maybe hold hands with.  That'd be great) 

Anyways!  Where was I?  Oh!  The idiot thing.  I'm sorry.  I don't think of them as idiots, so much as defective, I guess.  They w*rk just fine, but I'm looking for a model with a few more features, I guess.  I can appreciate the wrapper, and all.  I just don't need it:  I want something else. 

There's an hour for lunch, wherein everybody in the school goes to the lunch counters and tries to get something.  They still have those dorky trays with everything you need to eat.  Mostly for the poorer among us.  There's also a few a la carte counters, where you get the separates; hamburgers, salads, and the like.  If you're truly desperate, you can try the vending machines. 

I tend to sit by myself, not wanting to inflict my presence where it isn't wanted.  If people want to talk to me, they can.  I'm even (usually) friendly. 

I also need to study.  Honors does that to a person:  Most every free moment is a potential study moment, and you only get so many of those.  So I usually scarf my lunch and get right down to it. 

My last two classes are Al-Jibber (bonus cookie for you if you caught the reference (you're on your own about the cookies, mind you)), and Chemistry.  Algebra is a joke once you know how to do it (even the Honors class), and Chemistry - while fun - is kind of tedious.  It's a necessary tedium, though.  Next year we start mixing chemicals and the like, so it'd be good if we knew what might happen before we just start dumping things in the cauldron, so to speak. 

 

Chapter FOUR

August 29, 2008

Friday rolls around, and the game with it.  I never really care who wins the game, it's all about the Band, for me.  I mean, I would like for our team to win, but it doesn't really matter to me.  I'm not even sure who we're playing, to be honest. 

I've gotten the music memorized, and am well on my way with the marching (told you, I'm just that good  :) ), but the director doesn't feel like it's such a good idea to be testing for position this close to the event.  Who am I to argue.  (And see?  Even the director doesn't call it 'the game') 

This is an 'away' game, and I'm not even marching in it - I'll be watching from the sidelines.  I'd gotten a ride to school from Mom, and am now talking with Jimmy, waiting for the buses to arrive.  Jimmy plays saxophone, but don't hold that against him - he's a good guy despite that. 

"You're only going to get so many of these disposable classes, you need to plan it out to get what you want."  Jimmy. 

"I've tried that!  I just don't know how I'm going to get it all in and stick with Band.  I'm going to have to give up on a lot of things.  *sigh*  At least The meat of my schedule won't be taken up with fluff and drivel,"  I say, mocking his choice of mechanical drawing. 

"Leave off!  I need that to get into metal shop!  Engineering sudent, here!" 

"Easy, easy.  I'm just poking," and I do:  *Poke*.  "Besides, you don't need to take drawing to get into metals, just have a clear idea and be able to show the teacher you can hang.  I know you've got your year all planned out, and everything, but it's early enough that you don't have to stay if you don't want to.  Maybe you can get int-  What?" 

"I don't mind it.  It's actually nice to have a class where I don't have to be snapping at everyone's heels for once.  And Dad signed off on it because it matches my major,"  He looks around, then leans in, "Sarah's in, too." 

I smile.  Sarah Brown (flute) is a very cute sophomore with a brain.  She doesn't push herself for Honors, but I'm pretty sure she could hang.  "Oooh.  You gonna ask her out?"  His eyes go wide and he starts waving me off. 

Nope.  Too much fun.  "You know, there is a dance tonight.  It's possible that if you asked her, she'd at least try a dance.  If you didn't step on her toes, you might even be able to convince her to see you outside of school.  Wouldn't that be-"  His hand clamps over my mouth. 

Jimmy's a good friend of mine, so I'm not scared:  But Jimmy's a strong dude.  I don't even try to struggle, I just let my smile leak out of my eyes so he knows how funny I think this is.  He leans in closer:  "You will say none of this to Sarah Brown.  You will continue to act as you always do, and you will be rewarded with many baked goods." 

I try to gasp, but end up just nodding instead.  His Mom spends entirely too much time baking.  I don't know if she can cook, but there's always cookies or rolls at his house.  Good baked goods. 

"What?  You're after Brown, now?"  Todd Hjelsomm (percussion):  Jock, jerk, and all around pain.  "You just gonna go home and spank to her, right?  No real woman would get with you without being paid.  You know that, right?" 

I'm starting to stand up, but am abruptly yanked back down to Earth by Jimmy.  I'm not a fighter.  I'm a little short, and I'm quite a bit over-weight.  My recent stint in the hospital hasn't helped me any, either.  But you don't just bad mouth my friends and expect me to stay down for it.  Insulting Sarah - whom I knew of, but didn't actually know - is just not done.  Men defend girls.  (that's a period, right there) 

I don't have a chance at all of doing any real damage, but I can bleed on his clothes and get him in trouble for fighting.  Seriously: Todd's a wrestler.  People don't mess with them unless they're stupid, or seriously skilled (or seriously pissed off). 

"Leave it, Eric.  He's not worth it." 

Todd turns back angrily, ready to do violence:  But Jimmy stands up.  I'm sure that it wasn't fear that made him stop, but it is fear that makes him start back over.  You see, what some people call courage has been accurately described as a different type of fear:  Fear of shame. Maybe his reasoning is that backing away from Jimmy would show him to be a coward - and he can't have that.  He starts to walk towards Jimmy, whom I've described as an older looking, solid guy. 

He's saved from either (or both) by the buses arriving.  Everyone starts breathing again and gets aboard for the trip.  As usual, I get the window seat.  It's not that I want it and Jimmy's nice enough to let me have it, but that he's protecting me.  I don't get upset at it because - let's face it:  I need protection. 

I get back at him by winning the argument about whether he should talk to Sarah or not.  Okay, I don't actually win the argument in the traditional sense.  I win it by not letting go of my argument until he caves.  Sweet, sweet victory. 

I celebrate my win by promptly falling on my face getting off the bus.  I'm not the most graceful person you'll ever see.  I get up and move towards the bleachers.  There may have been some crowing over the victory, and there may not have been.  I do not believe in karma, so we'll just have to place this under 'God's will', and move along. 

I can't stop my smirk from forming as we watch our 'opponents' take the field.  Not the team, the band.  They shuffle onto the field and start to play a bit of 'music', read from little mini music-sheet holders on their instruments. 

Music holders.  Out on the field with them.  *sigh*  There ought to be a law against that sort of thing. 

In order to be called a marching band, you should need to fulfill a few requirements, agreed?  You should be able to march, for one.  You should have your music memorized, for Pete's sake.  It's not that hard, people.  And you should never, under any circumstances ever, share the field with 'do-nothing-flag-wavers'. 

These people aren't in the band, though I've heard of some that claim it.  They scamper about in showy costumes and... well, they wave flags.  Sort of rythmically, I guess.  It's not music, and it only serves as a distraction to the band's lack of music. 

Our 'opponents' can't march, don't have their music memorized, and there are almost more flag wavers than members of the band.  I'm almost crying.  The Band's going out to do battle, and I'm not going with them.  Stupid squirrel. 

'We' win, natch.  They march (march) out onto the field:  Not a single piece of music in sight.  Our six majorettes march out with us, and do the classic baton twirling, and dancing.  'HYPOCRASY!', I hear you cry. 

Our majorettes are drawn from the Band, and they play instruments in the off season.  (what?  You didn't think that we stopped playing when the football team did, do you?  We go all year long) 

We go out there and crush them.  I feel bad for the teams that we play for their Homecoming.  Their team may win, but their band gets its collective little soul crushed. 

Anyways, when we're done playing, we go home.  According to the rules, I don't think we're supposed to:  They'd probably like us to stay to the end of the game.  We don't.  We just show up and announce to everyone who The Best D*mn Band In The Land is, then we leave. 

Not to say that this happens when we're playing at home.  Oh, no.  One does not just quit the field when the enemy is in your house.  But as the visitors, we can (and do) just show up and trample over their - music? - and leave:  Mission accomplished. 

We have a few traditions in the Band - I don't know about other bands - and one of them is for the ride home.  Coming home, we always sing the school's alma mater when we cross the tracks, followed by the fight song.  It's a little cheesy, but it cements a bit of pride in the students.  We bond together:  To the school, to the Band, and to each other.  If other bands don't do something like this, they should.  

We get off the buses and change clothes for the dance to follow.  We have an hour or so to wait, but still.  People are already here setting up, and generally just waiting for the football team to get here.  Some people were dancing already, just getting warmed up for the main event to follow. 

The dance is held almost every week.  The DJ club lobbied for the school to allow them more 'club time', but it was just an excuse.  The dance is mostly an excuse to socialize, and hug people of the preferred sex while talking. 

It bears no resemblance to classical dancing of any sort.  I'm still not complaining, mind you.  I go to most every dance I can, staying until it's over.  Apart from watching girls swaying and bopping (enough right there, if you ask me), I love the music. 

I actually like most of the music that's out now.  Most of the music.  I never got into the rap thing that's afflicted most of the airwaves.  Music has Melody, Harmony, and Rhythm.  Rap barely has one of those.  And the culture is very thug heavy. 

But I like watching people (mostly the girls.  Sue me) dancing and having fun.  On occasion, a girl will even talk to me.  On their way to something else, mind you - but it's just nice to be able to converse with the fairer sex for a while and enjoy the music. 

After the dance, I walk home.  It's a twenty minute walk (could be ten, but I enjoy taking the 'short-cut' I found one day while walking home.  I walk most days, weather or not.  If you dress appropriately, then the weather is just a nuisance. 

 

Chapter FIVE

August 31, 2008

Church is a big thing with my family.  I'm not apologizing - everyone should go - I just thought you might want a little warning. 

I like going to church.  It's relaxing and I'm old enough now to get something out of the sermons.  I'm also mature enough to handle those times when I don't. 

My Sunday school teacher is really cool (did I just say that?  Wow).  He's energetic, and wise, and can find a way to relate our lessons into something semi-current.  He's the sort of man who makes you want to go to church.  (which you should do.  I'm just sayin') 

I love church girls.  It's nice to be around people who aren't always trying to hook up, or put you down for not being cool (guess which one I am).  You don't really want the hookup, and trying for it makes everyone uncomfortable anyways.  It's a church

All this freedom allows you to concentrate on a relationship, even if it's just a friendship.  You can get used to girls (or boys, if you're a girl) so you're not a total dork (should that be d*rk?) when you're talking to one.  You can pay attention to who you are, and get to know who they are. 

Some people think that this can happen in school, but school mutes things.  You're spending so much of your time worrying about your grades, your friends, homew*rk, etc.  that you can't devote enough time to most of them.  You might not even really get to know your friends. 

The sermon is a classic:  Love your neighbor.  Who is your neighbor?  Where's the limit?  Is it just the guy next door to you?  Is it the people of your town?  where does your responsibility end? 

I try to help out where and when I can.  You don't need to kill yourself all the time for people you don't really know (God's taken care of that one), but you shouldn't try to isolate yourself either.  Be in the world, but not of the world.  It's easy to say, but hard to do. 

Might be why they say to practice what you preach:  You aren't likely born with the ability full born in you. 

I do like the fellowship and general atmosphere of the church.  Some weeks I really need it to help me find a balance I can live with. 

 

Chapter SIX

October 29, 2008

Around Halloween, people start going a little crazy about the holiday.  Normally, there's two big dances at this time:  Homecoming, and the Halloween ball.  Homecoming had to be rescheduled, because of a major storm the one week, and half of the opposing team getting some stomach thing from a party the week after that.  If you can't play the game, you really can't have Homecoming, can you? 

People didn't want to skip the Halloween dance, because costumes are cool.  The other one's Homecoming.  Everyone was going nuts trying to figure out how these two events could be merged. 

"I'm gonna be a Greek god!  Mebbe Apollo!" 

"Bride of Frankenstein!  That way I'll be good to go for the lineup and the dance!" 

"Oooh!!  Let's all do zombie brides or something!  Ashley can do the makeup!  She's super good at it, and you can alter your dress to make it look zombie-ish!"

I kid you not, that's what she said.  There were a few other suggestions, too, but I think you're getting the idea.  I know the administration is getting a little paranoid:  Who wouldn't?  I mean, 'Too late in the year to move Homecoming, and we really can't move the Halloween dance.  What are we going to do?!?' 

You can almost imagine what must be going through their heads right now.  I sometimes wonder if the principal's spies (don't laugh, we know he has them) use the intercom to listen in and try to hear what kids are talking about. 

So anyways, it's two days before Homecoming and people are getting into a real frenzy with this.  This is one of the dances that I won't be going to, simply because it's such a big deal that it'll take all the fun out of it.  The P.A. comes on and gives its warning tone (allowing everyone to quiet down before the message starts), and then is quiet for a few moments. 

People start to chuckle a little at what they think might be going on in the office, but some of us are feeling a little bit of dread. 

Then, finally:  "Attention!  The Halloween ball has been cancelled in favor of Homecoming.  All aspects of Halloween are to be made absent for the duration.  Any student dressing in costume will be removed and suspended for three days.  That is all." 

*Silence* 

*More Silence* 

Then everything breaks loose.  People are screaming and cursing:  A few of them - led by Todd, no less - get up to start marching down to the office and 'explain' things to the principal. 

*SLAM!!*  "That is ENOUGH!!"  I wouldn't have thought that the old lady could get that kind of projection anymore.  "Every student will sit themselves down - NOW! - and take the quiz.  This is a timed quiz, and anyone not finished in five minutes fails, thereby losing twenty points." 

I don't know if the other teachers were even trying to maintain order in their classrooms, but that did it for us.  There were still a lot of grumbling going on, but no one mutinied. 

Later in the day, another P.A. interruption:  "Attention!  The school board will not tolerate further discussion on this topic.  The Halloween dance is history.  Any more students coming in to complain will get a Saturday detention, and possibly the three day suspension.  That will be enough.  Am.  I.  Clear." 

Even the teacher was looking at the box like it'd gone crazy, but he didn't say anything other than to continue the lesson.  And that was that.  

Or so they thought. 

 

Chapter SEVEN

August 31, 2008

Homecoming arrives on Halloween, and the stadium is packed, just like you'd expect.  No one seems all that nervous, except the team (they really don't need to.  The Homecoming game is classically handed to an easy team, where posible.  Our team isn't bad this year, so they had a few opponents to choose from, even with this juggling):  Rumor had it that the coach had threatened everyone, even the waterboy, with extremely dire consequences should they lose this one. 

The opening half went very well for us.  We (the Band) had to get up to play the fight song every time we (the team) scored.  We didn't get a lot of bench time.  It was cold, but not too bad.  Some of the girls were getting friendlier with the boys in an attempt to stay warm.  No boys complained that I ever heard ever. 

The ambulance got called out onto the field a few times (I hope they find that kid's spleen), and then halftime rolled around. 

*

Matt

So:  I'm standing there - freezing - wishing I had someone soft and warm to snuggle with (what did M.A.S.H. call them?  Soft personnel?).  I can see Eric out on the field, waiting and probably freezing, too.  Or maybe not.  Fat people have all that extra insulation.  I never pick on him for it, but...  Seriously!  How hard is it to take a walk now and again?  Or maybe just lay off the binging between meals?  Dude! 

I can't see Jimmy, but I can feel him disapproving of my thoughts from here.  'Sorry, dude.  I'll never say it to Eric, but I'll think it at him as often as I can'  I think he's placated - or maybe my delusion that I have telepathic powers is fading away again.  Oh, well. 

I chuckle as I see the cars coming.  I've heard through my sources what the girls have planned, and I can't wait to see it. 

And here they come:  The entire Homecoming court dressed to the nines in their Homecoming garb (well, not the football players).  Every girl there dressed as a Disney princess.  There was a lot of scrambling to get all the costumes together, especially 'Jasmine's'.  It's not a dress, but they're not pants, either.  Rebekah pulls it off well.  Really well.  Yowza. 

Eventually, they get off the field and the game gets back on.  Man!  We're really putting a hurting on these guys.  I can't play football myself.  My asshole father wouldn't let me even if I could keep things in check.  Don't get me wrong:  I love my family.  I just wish they didn't go so far out of their way to ruin the aspects of my life that are going well. 

No sports, no clubs, no fun.  Dad even tried to get rid of Jimmy and the twerp.  It was the first time I basically told dad to go fuck himself.  Jimmy's the only reason I passed math.  Eric is a serious brain, too.  Serious enough that he can explain things in a way that even I can understand them.  So...  If my friends go, I fail.  He backed up after that.  (Mom thinks he was just pushing me to see if I'd push back.  I hope that was the case, because I've been pushing kind of hard, lately) 

My friends tried to fuck me again this year, trying to convince me that I'd need AP classes to get into a good school.  I just laughed and told them that dad'd buy my way in to anywhere he wanted me to go.  I can do that in general classes, thank you. 

I am starting to reconsider, though.  Especially lately, when I start looking at the girls in the respective classes.  Not only are they smarter, but most of them look better, too.  Mom's pretty smart, so maybe dad did some thinking before he chose mom.  Couldn't have made a better choice. 

I just wish he'd keep it in his fucking pants around Maria.  Seriously!?!  Your fucking secretary?  Could you possibly be any more cliched? 

Oh, hey?  The game's over?  How long have I been stewing, anyways? 

At least it kept me warm

*

Jimmy

Eric should have come.  I've no one to talk to since Matt took a shot at Mary Simmons (hit, too.  They look pretty good out there) and abandoned me.  'Prick.' 

Heh.  That's about as offensive as I get.  Second tier curse words.  Thanks, MSD.  He doesn't know, my father.  MSD:  Male Sperm Donor.  He thinks I call him that for his initials:  Marcus Steven Donovan.  Thinks I don't weant to call him 'dad' (i don't, but that's neither here nor there), so I use MSD when talking to him or referring to him. 

He got salty about it once.  Once.  I believe I'd said, 'Mom wants you to come in for supper, MSD.'  He got a look and cracked me one in the side of my head with the back of his hand.  It hurt, but not as much as I'd thought. 

He started to spout something at me - probably about respect - but I couldn't hear him.  I started to shake and it was all I could do to not slam his head in the door of his car until I saw brains.  That's when I realized that I'd had him lifted in the air by his throat.  Just one hand, mind you. 

I heard stories about these guys in the norse (or something like that) called berserkers.  I thought it was pretty cool, but that no one could actually do that, you know?  He went inside when I dropped him, while I just kept shaking.  Took me a few minutes to get it together. 

By that time MSD was out and they'd started eating.  Mom looked at me with a question, like:  'What did you say to him?'  I just shrugged at her and got my plate. 

That marked the end, though.  MSD didn't try to treat me like he was my father:  Didn't try to pass along his 'wisdom' anymore.  Works for me.  Stopped with the violence in our house, too. 

Still drinks, though.  Even more when they discovered that mom can't have any more kids.  *sigh* 

I see Sarah talking with Susan and Becky.  She is so great.  I want to go and talk to her in the worst way, but I can't.  It's not a lack of courage, I don't think.  It's more that I think she could do so much better than me. 

I'm smart, and solid.  I'll likely go to a good enough college after attending State for a few years, to get the basics out of the way.  Then some sort of engineering degree and off to a (good) blue collar job.  There are worse ways to make a living, but I want so much more for her. 

I realize that I'm just a Sophomore, and that this is way too deep a conversation to be having - even with just me in my head.  Still... 

Some idiots have just come in from outside looking like they've had a fight.  They seem happy enough, i guess.  I see that the girls have carried the theme along, the Disney thing.  I thought it was a cool way of poking the principal in the eye.  Now these cheese heads come in and start to act like zombies. 

Not a bad idea, though.  Impromptu costuming.  Some of them even get a bunch of giggles from the girls:  Om nom nomming them like a zombie would.  The horde is sweeping towards the center of the floor.  Right towards Sarah. 

I start moving, but freaking Todd is already there, stopping them.  I take up his flank and stop the leakers from getting through.  Zombies give up after a couple seconds, and Todd gets thanked by all the girls. 

'Could this night get any worse?'  I try not to ask questions like that, for the simple reason that they can always get worse.  Oh, well. 

The dancing stops as the Homecomig King and Queen are announced.  Jasmine/Rebekah actually won, which is nice.  She's a seriously nice girl.  'Prince Eric' won as well.  Which is a pretty good joke:  His name is Eric, and he's dressed like that prince from the Little Mermaid.  Looks a little like him, too. 

I turn back to see Sarah dancing with Todd.  See, the night can get a whole lot worse. 

'Crap.' 

*

Todd

"Yeah.  He does seem nice enough, I guess.  He didnt back down when I razzed him, anyways.  Mom wants me to make sure that my cousin's doing all right in school, even if my cousin's an art nerd." 

"At least I can draw!  What - other than the two dozen or so things you're good at - can you do." 

"Nothing, I guess.  Unless you count saving my favorite cousin from a zombie horde.  *smile*  Jimmy's over there fuming- don't look!  Wonder what he'd do if I leaned in to kiss you?" 

"Ew!!  Todd!!"  *cackle* "You're just gross!" 

I can't help it:  Picking on Sarah is so much fun.  Still... "You could do worse.  If he ever gets it up to ask you, I guess I won't have to kill him." 

That gets me a kiss on the cheek which surely gets Jimmy's blood boiling. 

This is turning out to be a pretty good day, after all. 

 

Chapter EIGHT

December 27, 2008

Christmas was awesome!  Derek brought his girlfriend back from college, and she's British.  I'm not really all that familiar with the accents - like, whether she's from Manchester, or York or wherever - but I found myself (as usual) copying it just from listening to her.  We had a good few minutes of driving everyone crazy just talking to each other.  I don't do the odd vernacular, but the rest - as she says - is 'spot on'. 

I do it to Dad sometimes, too:  He'll get a little too irritated with something and drop into an almost Scottish brogue.  He doesn't curse (much), but he does let fly with a few words that we don't know.  He didn't know them, either:  We had to look them up online just to see if he should stop using them.  Mom insisted. 

Anyways, I'll sometimes copy him when he rants.  This doesn't cause him to stop immediately, natch.  This happens when he gets really irritated, remember.  His youngest son mocking him isn't likely to calm him down much. 

It's not like I can help it, though:  I just do it.  I've done a very credible southern 'aristocrat', Texan, Arkansasian, Minnestota leike (just like you spell it  :) ), French snob, Californian, Spanish, and Klink (German).  Only how they'd speak English, mind you.  I do know how to speak French from class, but that's it.  I'm told my accent is pretty good, though. 

I got the usual round of clothes and stuff, plus a new tablet.  It's got all my schoolbooks on it already, and I can get more when I move to new classes.  I'll very likely use it for games, mind you.  The battery's been upgraded so that it'll last a day or so with normal use, so I shouldn't have to worry about it as long as I plug it in at night.  Kewl. 

Derek's girlfriend - Stephanie ('Just call me Steff, would ya?') - got the best gift:  Plane tickets.  She'd been bummed about not being able to go home for the holidays, because her parents can't really afford it, among other things.  Derek invited her to our house as much to boost her morale as introduce her to Mom and Dad. 

Dad got mugged first:  It was hilarious to see him knocked over by a girl.  Not so much Mom glaring at him, mind you.  She kept it up until she got bowled over by the same red-headed missile.  Derek helped her up, and also calmed her down before she went after me and Billy. 

All that was left was for us to drive them to the airport, and since Billy had to go back to New York (NYU), we just decided to all go and see the sights.  The drive up wasn't too bad, I guess.  I had my new tablet loaded with books and games, after all.  Derek was driving Billy's car so that he could spend a little more time with Steffi, so Billy (grumbling about his car) sat with us and picked on me. 

I can usually ignore him, but I took pity on him and we played a bunch of card games until I got sick (I get motion sick pretty easily).  He commandeered my tablet while I tried to get some sleep. 

I woke up at the airport, and we went about looking at things.  Dad was amusedly bored, but the rest of us gawked a bit.  Barely organized chaos surrounded us as the speakers kept trying to tell people where they should go, vainly trying to infuse some order in the place. 

We'd just seen Derek and Steff onto the plane when a group of security hustled by.  A large group.  "Do they seem in a hurry to anyone else?" 

Dad just nods and eases us out of the way.  Billy collects hugs from all of us and heads to his car, which is closer because of Derek and Steffi's boarding/luggage.  I think. 

I'm also thinking about terrorists, and what a great target an airport would be near Christmas, so...  'Lord?  I was wondering if you cou-' 

*

Security Officer Franks

"-y Gate Three.  The truck has been abandoned, and we're looking for the drivers.  Continue looking for anyone suspicious.  Reinforcements are en rou-" 

I tune it out, looking around at all the people.  'Anyone suspicious'?  What the fuck does that mean?  You get in trouble for profiling a certain minority, but let's be honest here:  That's most likely who's gonna be doing it. 

Most times, working as a security guard isn't too bad.  During this 'silly season'?  I am so fucking tired of all these new regs and procs.  Be nice, and smile at everyone.  Keep an eye out for suspicious activity, but don't be obtrusive (that's the TSA's job.  Heh).  Help direct folks to where they need to go.  Don't profile.  Don't ever profile.  Even if you know someone's gonna be trouble, don't be profilin'. 

Some days I wish I was still in the Corps, is all I'm sayin'. 

I see the reinforcements coming in.  Three fucking busloads all at once.  Subtle.  I'm raising the radio to talk to central, but Jeffries just has to say something, you know? 

"Hey, Franks!  At least they're not in full riot gear, yeah?"  He's grinning like we just won the fucking war.  He knocks it off as I lay a glare on him. 

"Nigger?  You think having these guys crashin' in like this without gear is gon' help?  *snort*  They gon' cause a riot comin' in like this, and we ain' gon' be able t'stop it.  Why you thi-" 

*

"Mike Jeffries"

(translated from the original)

I hope the distraction got out without trouble.  I've just finished spraying the area 'clean':  Getting hired onto the pest control team was an added bonus.  Evidence of our doing the Lord's work.  'God is the Greatest.' 

This attack on the fortesses of the infidels is going to show them who is the greatest, and that they will all fall before him.  'God is the Greatest'. 

I can hear two of them arguing about all the increased security - for all the good it will do them.  My job is done, and I head towards the exit. 

Buses arrive with another load of security officers:  I have to stop myself from chuckling.  Even if they catch me now, it will do them no good. 

Everything I needed to do has been done.  My reward is waiting for me when I die. 

No need to rush it, though. 

"God is the Greatest." 

*

We spend the night at a hotel near the campus, so we can tour the university and surrounding sights that whole next day.  It's fairly magical.  I can only imagine what it might have looked like before Christmas.  Wow. 

We then go skating at some famous sort of ice park (they skate, I fall a lot) and wrap it all up with a carriage ride through Central Park.  Okay, I'm not sure what park it is, but it's pretty big.  I don't really get travelling.  I've never really liked it, being away from my normal and all that.  But there are moments... 

So I promptly catch a cold.  The vacation's going way too perfectly, and I want to do my part to bring it back into balance (apparently).  Dad almost has to carry me back to the room where I immediately pass out.  Mom and Dad were planning to spend the night going to a show while I stayed at the hotel and played on my tablet, but now...  My parents' last night in New York is ruined.  Yay, me. 

*

Mom

"Jake?  Do you think we should just go home now?  We can't exactly go out and just leave him here, you know."  Sometimes, I have to remind Jake of what is right - especially when something he wants is in sight.  I'm trying to not smile as I see him wrestling with the idea. 

"You sure you don't want to see a show?  You've never been, and I don't know when we'll be back to see one." 

Drat.  I hadn't thought of that:  He knows I wanted to see a play while we were here.  *sigh*  "I wouldn't be able to enjoy it anyways, without you there."  He just nods and starts to pack. 

I kind of wish we'd been able to take advantage of our getting two rooms.  My Jake gets so enthusiastic in hotel beds. 

*

Dad

I'm not too concerned with Eric's illness - doubtless remembering all his frailty and sicknesses from the past.  It's not until I remember the airport that I start to wonder. 

After all, Eric's consitution isn't all that good.  What if something'd been released at the airport?  He'd catch it before anyone else, and it'd take him out with less trouble than most. 

'You're just being silly, Jacob.  It's just a cold, which he caught from being on the ice after getting tired.  It's your fault, yes:  But it's nothing to worry about.  Keep an eye on the news for any sign of an outbreak, but don't kill yourself over this.' 

It's harder to hold onto that feeling when we get home and he can't even get up the stairs to his room without help.  Heh.  He called me 'Mom'.  I'll have to make sure to rib him about that, later. 

*

Dad

"All he has been doing is eating and sleeping - occasionally he will get cleaned up.  Should we not we call the doctor?  What if he is relapsing?  What if-" 

"Petal, if it makes you feel better to call a doctor, go ahead.  It might just be flu, and the doc'll tell you if it's pneumonia.  We can't hear any crackling in his breathing, though.  It's probably just flu, but there's no need to be careless.  Go ahead.  Anything to get him out of the bathroom will be welcome." 

I know that he has got upcoming work to worry about, but it would be nice if he would show a little more concern for his youngest son.  'Flu' does not last this long, nor does it keep one under for the duration.  Eric's health is not the best, I know.  Still... 

I get Jake to carry Eric to the car so that I can drive us to the doctor for his appointment.  I do not like the doctor.  I am not in the habit of liking people who spend an undue amount of time treating me like I'm a paranoid little girl. 

I swear if he offers me a lolipop I will smack him.

*

Wow.  How does Mom stay out of jail?  I realize that I'm barely here, but some things just pierce the cotton that I'm wrapped in.  Mom slapping the doctor sort of stands out, you know? 

Just the flu.  *sigh*  All that worrying for nothing, I guess.  And I get to eat at the restaurant before going to school.  Okay:  It's McDonalds, but still.  I'm just getting a milkshake to hold down the nausea and give me some energy. 

Except:  When I drink the milkshake, my nausea goes away. 

Did you hear me?  It goes away

Without the nausea, I realize how hungry I am.  So I go back - twice - to get more to eat.  And another milkshake.  I almost can't make it to the car, I'm so sleepy. 

Somehow, Mom gets me into the house and up to my room.  She's laughing all the way, so I guess she's just happy that I ate something and didn't throw it all up.  I don't remember the pillow, I'm so tired. 

 

Chapter NINE

January 6, 2009

Matt

"Eric looks like shit, have you noticed?" 

Jimmy just grunts at me, his attention on Sarah Brown.  She's cute enough, but a little too weird for me.  You know how some people are:  They're trying to find their 'true love', or some shit like that. 

High School's for learning a lot of the things you need for later, sure.  It's also for finding out who you are, and who you're going to want to be with.  Maybe not the exact person, but the type, you get me? 

You're never going to get anywhere if you don't put yourself out there.  Heh.  Maybe I should tell Jimmy that.  How will that play:  'The idiot friend of yours has some wisdom to drop on you, so listen up.' 

Worth a shot, I guess. 

"Hey, Ji-"  Where's he going?  Over to talk to Sarah.  Nice. 

Glad I could help. 

Still:  What's going on with Eric?  If you're as sick as he is, why would you be in school?  What could possibly be important enough to push it this far?  I'd ask him, but he's asleep. 

And he really needs the sleep, as bad as he looks.  I want to sigh, but he'll probably wake up and tell me I'm doing it wrong. 

Don't get me wrong:  I love the porker - I fought Dad over him - but there's no one fucking right way to do every fucking thing.  I can't fight him on that.  Or anything.  He just won't let go, no matter how stupid he's being about it. 

And forget about the 'agree to disagree' thing that works for so many others.  I don't know where he gets it, but you just can't win an argument with him.  I'm tempted to tell him to go out for debate, just so someone could tell him he's wrong and have it stick.  Heh. 

Hey!  Jimmy's coming back, and he looks happy.  Brown looks all sorts of confused, but...  "Good news?" 

He's nodding as he sits back down.  "She's not going out with Todd." 

Wait...  What?  "And?" 

He's just looking at me, "And what?" 

I sigh.  "Dude.  You need to-  You know what?  Come with me."  I stand up as Eric starts to stir.  I told you he'd get up to tell me I was fucking sighing wrong.  Whatever. 

I lead Jimmy over to Brown.  "Sarah?  Jimmy's nuts about you and doesn't want to mess you up with his idiocy.  Jimmy?  Talk to her for a few minutes and try to keep your brains in your head."  One of Brown's friends - Bianca, I think - is looking at me like she's trying to figure me out.  Good luck.  "'Sup?" 

I head back over to Eric and try to get him on his feet.  "Upupup, Erica.  You got all the beauty sleep you can handle:  Time to face the world."  He's protesting that his name's not Erica:  It's Eric.  I'm just smiling 'cause he's not going on about my not sighing right. 

"You're not sighing correctly, Matt.  I think with just a little pract-"  I just can't fucking win. 

*

Sarah

I feel like I should do something nice for Matt:  Jimmy would never have made any kind of move if he hadn't been pushed.  Problem is that I like my friends too much to push any of them at a Guinea.  He'd just end up using them for whatever he'd get from them and then drop them for a skank. 

It's happened before, and he has not apologized for it.  Ever.  Melanie tried to get him back for it, but - as stupid as Matt is - he's clever.  He had all of his new girlfriend's other friends on the lookout for Mel.  She couldn't get close enough to do anything.  Her one attempt ended so badly that she couldn't date at all at this school. 

She's now going out with someone from Davis, but... 

Jimmy's going to be great.  All that potential, and no one's ruined him yet.  I have a blank slate to work with, no other distractions, and a full support group to bounce ideas off of.  More importantly, my support group is fully engaged in boyfriends of their own, so I don't have to worry about poaching. 

I'd been working on getting to know Eric, hoping that he'd be able to link me to Jimmy by the end of the year.  But now Matt's cut a few months off my schedule.  How should I reward him? 

*sigh*  Some days it's just harder to think about not school stuff. 

I hope Eric kicks this - whatever this is - before contests.  The trumpets aren't all that strong with the new kids coming in.  They did alright with marching, but this is the concert season. 

'Hey, God.  If you don't mind, I'd like to bend your ear for a mom-' 

 

Chapter TEN

January 11, 2009

How long is a case of the flu supposed to last?  It's been two weeks, or so - hasn't it?  Since coming home from New York, so...  Yeah. 

Walking to school hasn't been the most fun I've ever had.  I try to not upset Mom about things, because I know she'll try to keep me home, or even take me to the doctor again.  He did such a bang up job the first time... 

The nausea's been a constant companion, only temporarily mitigated by milk consumption.  It seems weird that I'd be drinking milk to keep from throwing up, but...  I'm weird, thank you. 

The last couple of days, I've also had a problem sitting down:  It hurts when I sit upright, or anything even close to it, really.  So I've been wiggling around a bit to find a good spot to sit down in.  I imagine I've looked... odd... while doing this, but there's no help for it. 

I can't just skip school for this, no matter what.  After missing Band camp, I don't want to miss out on contests, too. 

Being able to take Saturday and just basically rest has been a Godsend.  It's Sunday now and I'm almost feeling human again.  It's a mark against how you've been feeling when you realize that you're finally on the mend - and then you realize how bad you still feel.  And this is you feeling better

I've been noticing things, too.  Now that I'm able to spare a few moments from just feeling bad.  I'm getting shorter:  Only a few inches, anyways, but they seem like important inches.  I'm losing weight, too.  I'd been expecting to lose weight (even looking forward to it, if you'll believe it), but not height.  People don't just shrink, do they? 

'Hey God?  I was wondering if I could bother you for a minute.  I've not been well for a while, and I'm still not as right as I feel I should be.  I'm kind of wondering what your plan is for all of this?  I'm not upset or angry - it'd be a very stupid thing for me to be feeling right now - I'm just wondering what you need for me to do here.  Can you help me out a bit?  Thank you, and Amen.'

It's just as I'm finishing up that prayer when I notice that my butt's itching like crazy, and starting to hurt, especially if I touch anything back there. 

I try to twist about and look, but sudden pain stops me from doing anything other than pant quietly.  It feels as if my legs are breaking, and ripping out of their skin.  I feel/hear a tearing, and the pain just stops.  I collapse with relief, and almost pass out.  I finally start to get it back together - 'What just happened?'. 

I'm rolling to get back on my feet, when I feel a pain in my butt.  More specifically, my tail. 

My tail. 

Just let that sit there a minute. 

... 

My.  Tail

Most people don't have tails, do they? 

Nope. 

Why do I have a tail?  How did I get a tail?  What the h*ck am I doing with a tail?  The skin's growing up around it.  Or maybe it was already there and was just hardening?  Whatever.  I have a freaking tail! 

What the-! 

'God?  Why do I have a tail?' 

Silence.  Okay, that's not true.  The shower spray's making that nice raining sound.  But that and my heart beating's about it. 

"Eric!  Get out of there!  I know you're not feeling well, but the rest of us want some hot water, too!" 

"Sorry, Dad!  I'll be right out!" 

I realize that I'm panicking.  'What am I gonna do?!?'  I discard the first thirteen worthless plans that run through my head, and focus on getting to my room without being noticed.  I concentrate on drying off quickly.  Too quickly, as my skin still hurts, and I've forgotten (how do you forget this, moron?) my tail(?!?). 

I very gingerly dry off, and wrap the towel around me, moving slowly down the hall, trying to be stealthy.  My Dad surprises a girly shriek out of me as he walks calmly around the corner.  He swears he doesn't do it on purpose, but he's very good at surprising people, and he enjoys the shrieks. 

"I've got your bed all made, new sheets and stuff.  Don't worry about tipping me, we'll settle up at the beginning of the week."

Some people think they're funny.  My Dad can be funny.  He just doesn't really care if you find him funny or not.  'Sometimes, I tell a joke just for me.' he says.  I plaster a rictus sort of grin on my face and edge by him towards my room.  I close the door and wish I had a lock on it.  It's not the first time for this wish. 

My brothers used to pick on me fairly mercilessly.  That stopped about... I'll have to let you know when it happens.  If it ever happens.  I'm not strong enough to stop them forcing their way into my room and getting revenge on me.

Yeah, I said it:  Revenge.  I do not go quietly into the night, and do not give up without a fight.  I'm more like a guerrilla than a front line fighter, though.  I'll find a way to embarrass you, or spoil something you really love.  Salt on your ice-cream spoon, Vaseline on the doorknob, I can think of something for anything.  The one I remember most clearly involved Derek's old girlfriend, Crystal, and his stash of magazines. 

We're fairly good, Christian folk.  Such magazines as these were fairly tame, I'm told.  I'm also told that he was using them for artistic references (he's an artist).  All I know is that Crystal hit the roof when she saw them.  She hit the roof, and then walked out on him.  Derek was confused.  'How did they get out of my closet?'  Then he looked at me. 

I saw the look and returned it.  "That's for embarrassing me in front of my friends." 

He didn't say a word, just ran right at me.  I was in a state of shock, and didn't even start to move until he was there.  He did something to me, I did something back, and now we're even.  Right? 

He knocked me to the ground with the first hit.  I'd never seen him so angry.  He broke my glasses and kept swinging.  It didn't really hurt, much (I have a pretty hard head, I'm told).  While he was hitting me, I kinda... swept?... him off with my legs.  I kicked him once while he was getting up, and then it was all him again. 

I might have really been hurt had Mom not come through the door right then.  Derek was standing over me with his bloody fist in the air, ready to hit me again.  I was laying under him, my face a bloody mess.  She stopped cold for a few seconds, and then shouted, "DEREK!!"

During the explanations, it came out that he had the magazines.  He was glaring at me as he took them outside to be burned.  I felt I got off okay.  Most of the blood wasn't mine.  He'd cut his hand pretty badly on my teeth as he was hitting me.  My nose was fine, I just had a little blood from where my teeth cut my lip.

What was I talking about?  Oh!  The lock I don't have.  I wish I had a lock.  Most recently for times like this.  It would be very nice to have a moment or two where I knew no one would bother me, to assess the situation.  This situation needs a lot of assessment.  I'd like a few years to assess this situation, and maybe decide if I wanted a tail at all.  'Nope, no tail for me, thanks!' 

It's about five inches long, maybe a little less, and about as thick as my index finger at the base.  It doesn't remind me of a rat, with the almost scaly, almost cracked skin.  Not a worm, either.  It looks almost like chicken skin, all pimply?  Yeah, like that.  Aside from having a tail at all, it's the weirdest thing I've ever seen, like a prehensile chicken wing.  A flat one. 

And It's attached to my butt.  Nice. 

That would be weird, don't you think?  Having a chicken wing growing out of your butt?  Very weird I'd say.  You just don't see many chicken wing butts out there.  I realize that I'm panicky-rambling at this point.  'Chicken wing butts?'  Really?  I guess it's better than chicken butt wings. 

It's growing right out the bottom of my spine, maybe just like an extension of it?  It occurs to me that I might be dreaming, and that I should just go to bed.  So I do, praying/hoping that this is a nightmare, and that I'll wake soon. 

 

Chapter ELEVEN

January12, 2009

No such luck.  I wake up to a sharp pain in my butt, and a weird kind of stiffness in my spine.  I get up slowly and stretch.  I twist around a bit and see that my tail hasn't changed much, just grown maybe an inch.  I start a 'leper check', trying to look at myself and see if there's any more changes.  My bones still hurt, and I am pretty nauseous, the usual.  Oh!  And I also have a tail.  Lovely. 

I creep into the bathroom to take another shower, trying not to wake anyone up.  It feels great, and I use a lot of hot water.  I get dry and dressed in the bathroom.  'Maybe I can just tuck it into the crack?  will that w*rk?'  I try to hold it there with my briefs. 

Okay, it seems to w*rk just fine, as long as I sit down carefully.  I'm still shrinking, however; and I don't know what to do about that.  I'm losing weight and height (and sanity). 

I need to counteract some of this shrinking, so I have a big breakfast, with about half of a gallon of milk, grab three milk bottles and my lunch from the fridge and leave for school. 

There's a part of my brain that argues for telling my parents.  It's even a loud part of my brain.  I really think it would w*rk out better for everyone if I do.  You want to know why I don't?  You ready to laugh?  I don't want to miss the solo/ensemble contest.  Yep.  I figure that they'll take me to a doctor, and that he'll schedule me for testing.  I'm not really thinking about the government labs, and those kinds of tests:  Just that I don't want to miss the contests. 

Note to anyone listening:  If anything like this happens to you, TELL SOMEONE IMMEDIATELY!!! 

Anyways, I get to school, and settle in for the early practices.  I'm not doing too badly, but it's hard to sit still when my tail insists on wiggling.  I figure this out (that I'm in trouble) when I feel it wiggle out of my underwear and down my leg. 

I'm a little relieved when it stops wiggling, only to do a spit take when I realize that it had to have grown longer in order to do this.  (a spit take is... interesting when you're playing a trumpet) 

I'm stuck in my chair, though.  You can't exactly leave in the middle of playing to go to the bathroom.  That would be obvious, and I really don't want anyone's attention on me right now.  I wait for the class to be over, and make my way quickly to the bathroom.  I lock myself in a stall, and disrobe from the waist down.  My tail's now almost two feet long, and whipping about like a blind snake. 

Everything is moving in time with my tail and I realize that I'm getting ready to swoon.  Who even swoons anymore? 

I hear someone come in and start to do their business just as a sharp pain hits my face.  I try not to scream as it hits me, and I'm panting to try and alleviate the pain.  It must have sounded odd, because I hear the kid in the other stall say something about constipation.  I just keep grunting and panting a lot. 

He gets up and washes his hands quickly, then leaves.  I can't blame him.  I wouldn't want to be in a small room with someone making those sounds either.

After a few minutes, the pain subsides a bit, and I figure I'll have to leave school and see a doctor.  I'm not sure I'll survive without one.  I start to crawl out of the stall to get dressed when I notice that my tail has continued to grow as I was in there, now approaching three feet in length.  It's also about as thick as my wrist at the base. 

'What the - '

I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my pants and tail when the door opens, admitting Todd, Jason, and Phil.  We all just kind of freeze there in a horrible tableau, until the door closes and bumps Phil forward a step. 

I should thank Phil some day:  If he hadn't gone to get someone to deal with the 'monster' in the bathroom, I honestly think they'd have killed me. 

Wrestlers are strong.  I've been losing weight, but I'd swear I was still over two hundred pounds.  Todd picks me up and slams me down onto the sink, which can't withstand that sort of impact.  It snaps off jaggedly, showering us all with water. 

I'm unable to fight back with any sort of effectiveness, mainly because my pants are still around my ankles.  (Also because I suck at fighting)  I see Todd raising the broken sink above my head and then I black out. 

*

Jason

"DUDE!"  I tackle Todd off of the freak:  I don't know if I'm trying to keep Todd from killing him... it... or just to keep the blood down.  It sort of looks like that dweeb - Eric?  I think - but WHAT THE HELL'S GROWING OUT OF HIS ASS? 

Todd staggers to his feet and moves away from it.  I see him think about finishing it off when the tail keeps moving around - almost slithering:  Creepy. 

Phil comes back in with Mr. Erin, and they both reel back a few steps when they see the freak.  Mr. Erin forces himself forwards a few steps to get a better look, I guess.  He finally seems to notice the water shooting out of the (broken) sink.  "Mr. Harrison? (Phil)  Would you please go and get the janitor?  We need this water shut off.  Thank you.  Mr. Hjelsomm?  Please stand outside and keep people away?  Mr. Meeks?  Please go and get Mrs. Shumacher and bring her here.  Thank you, boys." 

*

Dad

What do you do when you get 'the call'?  Little Eric's in the hospital.  How does that even happen?  There was an altercation with another boy, but...  Hospital?  Lily'd been driving - is she all right?  Did she have an accident? - and she called me after she heard. 

Okay.  Probably didn't have an accident, then.  'Get it together, Jacob.'  It's times like this that Lily always turns to God.  I've had a harder time of that since my time in the service.  Doing the things they had us do...  I'm not sure any but Ken came out of that with our faith intact.  His came out stronger. 

I need to call him. 

Later.  Right now, I've got to call the hospital, and see if there's anything they'll tell me, that they wouldn't tell Lily. 

*

Dr. Leslie Brahms

"We have a male:  Caucasian - aged fourteen years.  Something has caused a mutation:  Subject presents... a tail.  Approximately four feet in length at this time, though it is still growing.  Subject's face is also showing signs of change in that the bones of the face - seemingly all of them - are pushing fowards - or should that be outwards? - to an as yet unknown degree for an as yet unknown reason. 

"Subject has not yet awoken from the syncope:  Discussion is underway on whether to sedate or not.  I've argued for light sedation, with possible additions to prevent undue stress.  I'm confident this will occur." 

*takes a drink*  "*sigh*  Subject's father is... one of those sealed file fu- *sigh* bastards... who make life difficult for everyone else.  Anyone else would have been shuffled off to a military facility by now, irregardless of the stories necessary to cover it up. 

"Back to target:  Subject appears to have mingled his DNA with something, conjectures abound.  Whether this is due to some outside agent, or the result of an - Matthews, I'm going to kill you for suggesting this - 'X-Men style' mutation is unclear at this time.  Continued study is necessary. 

"Dr. Leslie Brahms, the usual salad and accolades, and then type it up and file it." 

 

Chapter TWELVE

January 23-30, 2009

NEWS

"-eports of deaths scattered across the globe.  It is uncertain at this time who-" 

"-attered across the world.  Several terrorist organizations have claimed to be responsible for the attacks, though officials aren't sure that it is - in fact - a tailored virus.  Tune in-" 

"-efuses to leave her house in Beverly Hills, saying she doesn't want to catch-" 

"-ere is the government?  Ain't they s'posed to be handlin' all this sh*beep*?  We payin all this taxes, and where is they?  Huh?  f*beep* nigger we put in the 'House?  Hey!  People be dying out here!  Get yo peop-" 

"-air enough to say that the government - all the governments - are stymied.  Those organizations who have claimed to be responsible have all suffered as much as everyone else.  More so, in the case of the 'Brigade'.  Nearly one hundred perc-" 

"-rus mutates faster than they can study it, let alone cure it.  The incubation period it has shown so far means that it's taken too long to identify 'patient zero', as it were.  Records recovered from some four of the terrorist cells indicate that it was widespread for weeks before anyone even heard of it happening.  Now, all-" 

"-eek medical care as soon as possible, even if you just think you have a cold.  Authorities are trying to determine a test to confirm infection, but-" 

"-ease stop going to the hospital until you're sure you've gotten it:  The mass of people who aren't all that sick, yet are legitimately concerned is taking away resources that need to be held for these specific cases.  Again, pl-" 

*

Rebekah

He's never been this sick before.  What's happening to him?  Daniel doesn't trust the doctors, but sometimes you realy need to see one.  Michael just hasn't been right since uncle David was here.  Uncle David wasn't sick, was he? 

Maybe I should say something to Daniel?  He's strong.  He's the one God said should be leading us.  I'm not the brightest - I know that - but Michael's been growing so weak.  It's not right that he should be sleeping for so long. 

"Mom?" 

Who is that?  No one should have been in Michael's room!  There's a tall, skinny man wobbling his way down the stairs.  "Who are you?  What are you doing in Michael's room?  Where's Michael?!  If you've hurt him, I-" 

"Mom?  It's me:  Michael?  I think I changed some while I was-" 

"LIAR!!  My son is a little boy!  Who do you think you are, to-"  I don't know where I got the gun from:  Daniel usually keeps them all locked away, safely.  I level the shotgun at the weird man and notice that he's wearing Michael's pyjamas.  I can feel my eyes narrowing. 

I'm just getting ready to pull the trigger when I feel something in my head, trying to keep me from shooting.  I manage to push it out, and fire a blast.  The intruder drops, and the pressure in my head vanishes.  

Daniel comes running up the stairs, roaring: "What's going-  Who's this?!  Becky?  Stop shaking!  Stop-  *sigh*  Stop shaking, please?  Let me take this?"  He takes the gun from me, and I collapse in his arms. 

"Who is this, and why is he wearing Michael's clothes?  He came out of Michael's room, wearing Michael's clothes.  He called me Mom...  He called me Mom!  Is that-  Could that-  D-d-daniel?" 

Daniel just holds me closer, as we both stare at the strange man in our house. 

*

Dad

"Do you think he's all right?" 

"He's still okay, as far as they'll tell me.  If he was going to die from this, he'd have likely done it by now," I sound tired, and I am.  I need to not take it out on Lily, though.  "We'll get a call soon enough from them:  Telling us he's okay, and that we should go pick him up.  Not today, I guess, but..." 

*sigh*  "I know, Jake, but..." she snuggles a little closer, "I just want him home." 

She starts crying, and I've never felt so helpless. 

'God?  Where ar-' 

 

Chapter THIRTEEN

?

When I wake up I'm in hospital, all sorts of confused about where I am and how I'd gotten there.  I then remember Todd, and wonder how I'm alive at all.  I have a hard head, but this is ridiculous. 

I'm well secured, though.  I've got restraints on both arms and legs, as well as three on my tail, which is now much longer. There's also a restraint across my chest, but after everything else, I really don't feel like struggling. 

My vitals must have sparked something, because there's a nurse in here within moments.  She's trying hard to look like she's not scared, even managing a rictus grin.  But she's just standing there:  Staring at me and mustering up the courage to enter the room, I guess.  The doctor just breezes right by her and starts to check on me.  

There's an assortment of bags on the tree he's checking.  He marks some for replacement, and notes things in the clipboard thingee that goes in the slot at the foot of the bed. 

The doctor mutters, "Nurse, he's hardly able to do anything, as restrained as he is.  It's safe to come in and do your job."  She edges in and, still smiling, changes some of the I.V.s on the tree.  I don't think I was supposed to hear that. 

"How are we feeling today, Mr. Robinson?"  the doctor smiles at me, leaning over me like he's trying to be comforting; but I notice that he's staying well away from the bed, like he doesn't want to get too close to me, despite what he'd just said to the nurse.  He's also talking in a loud voice, like when you're trying to talk to a young child (or a foreigner). 

I try to speak, but my mouth's all weird and dry.  I can't feel my tongue, and the inside of my mouth is responding oddly.  "Hghhgk!  Cghgk!"  I start to cough, trying to get some kind of moisture in my mouth. 

"Nurse, could we have some water over here, please?" 

She nods and dashes briskly to the sink, returning a few moments later with one of those cups with a straw.  I nod gratefully as she tries to get the doctor to take it.  He's pretending not to see her, looking at the EKG thingee he'd looked at earlier.  It must require a LOT of attention because he's not looking away for anything.  She glances at me a few times, refusing to get within arm's reach of me.  I'm dying of thirst here, and they're playing this sick kind of game?  

I jerk one of my hands towards them and try to shout, but all that comes out is this sort of high-pitched chittering sound. The nurse freaks out.  She throws the cup in the air and shrieks as she bolts to the door, clawing at it when it doesn't open right away.  The doctor slowly backs up and pulls a gun out of his pocket.  He's almost to the door when it slams open, admitting two security types. 

The panicked doctor shoots at me but misses, hitting one of the machines I'm hooked up to.  The security guards split up, one of them making sure that the doctor and nurse get out safely while the other moves over to me to make sure I can't do whatever I'd done to cause this calamity.  He quickly checks that all the restraints are still there - and tight (he tugs on them) - while the other guard comes at me with his club raised. 

"Whoa there, Jackson!  The doc was just spooked. It's still restrained.  Put it away!" 

Jackson fumes for a few moments, then slowly (grudgingly) puts the club away.  I try saying something - anything - and gesture towards the cup, but I can't move much.  The guard notices my motions, however, and goes over to the cup (really, the only thing over there) to bring it to me.  I try to suck the water out, but my lips aren't up to it, for some reason.  Too numb, I guess.  The guard tries to hold his hand over the straw and my mouth, allowing me to drink. 

I'm startled for a moment, because my face doesn't feel right with him touching it.  I need the water too badly to pause for long, though, so i suck it down. 

I am soooo glad that no one comes in and decides that he's trying to suffocate me or drown me.  The water tastes like nothing I'd ever tasted before.  I understand that things taste better when you're really in need of them.  I might even have liked coffee at that moment.  I finish a few minutes later, and thank the nice guard.

"Thgkknk ygook!" 

'What the h*ck is up with my throat?' 

"You're welcome?" 

A different doctor comes in, looking like he's not had enough sleep.  There's a murse (male nurse = murse, btw) who came in with him, who looks like he'd rather be killing something than be here. 

I start to shrink back from him, not wanting to be on the list of things to kill.  The second doctor does all the things that the first doctor did, much more quickly than the first doctor did them.  He just keeps nodding, and checking the charts, and humming something that I almost recognize. 

I don't really try though, because I'm  busy trying to sink into the bed and keeping the murse in sight.  The guy certainly doesn't deserve the fear, but I can't help it. 

"Stevens, do you think you could try to smile a little?  He's looking a little shocked."

Murse Stevens whips his attention over to the doctor, who's scribbling away in the notebook/clipboard thingee.  He then swivels the gunmounts to fix me with a basilisk stare.  I try to swallow, my mouth suddenly dry again.  I can't blink, and I really want to.  Anything to get him to stop staring at me. 

He looks a little shocked, and turns to look at the mirror over the sink.  He rocks back a step, and very visibly changes his expression (that takes a moment).  A smile actually looks pretty good on him.  It most certainly is a huge step up from before:  The guy they send in to make sure there's an empty bed for anyone important who might come in. 

"Sorry, man.  These double shifts are killing me," he reassures me and refills the watercup from the sink. 

I start to take a sip from the cup from him but my head is shaking too badly.  'Why is my head shaking?'  I look around for a moment, puzzled.  Then it all comes crashing back in on me. 

The doctor tried to kill me!  I'm chained up in a bed in a room with no windows, and he tried to shoot me!  I look over at the machine he shot by accident, and there's still smoke wafting it's way up from it, and start to shake all over.  I can't seem to help myself, I'm just shaking, which is kind of serious when you're strapped down to the bed and  can barely twitch.

The murse immediately moves in to hug me.  He squeezes me so tight.  It might have felt like an attack, but it mostly does something quite a bit weird:  It squeezes all of my panic out.  Not instantaneously by any means, but slowly and surely I feel my twitching ease.

"Shh.  There, there.  You're all right.  Nothing's coming to get you now.  Shh.  Shh."

He continues with the nonsense patter, and I respond by trying to curl up in him and falling asleep. 

*

Hobbes

I can't believe they let him in here with a gun.  No, sorry:  A pistol.  As if calling it distinctly makes it any better.  I don't care that he is from the military:  You do not jeopardize the safety of the patient like that.  I don't fucking care if you're spooked. 

Getting woken up by a frantic nurse (I really need to learn their names - especially when they're cute) who's yelling about shots fired in the special ward is not how I want my 'day' to start. 

I met him and his idiotic nurse in front of the elevator.  "What's going on?"  Brilliant, John.  Cutting right to the heart of the problem. 

"That beast tried to kill me!  And the nurse too!  I think it should be euthanized, and I'll submit my report immediately!" 

"No, seriously:  What happened?  Do I need to get the recordings?"  'Doctor' Brahms pales at this:  Didn't he know that everything down there is recorded? 

"It tried to attack the nurse, and was working on its restraints.  The security detail got there in time to save us, and we fl- left.  I'm going to submit my report.  Go check with security if you want to."  He scurries off, but passes the hallway to his office.  Why's he need the security phone to call this in? 

Now, I know he went there to get the feed from the cameras erased.  Too bad I get copied on the feed as the project head. I want him out of this hospital, and preferably out of practice. 

Mr. Robinson (Jr.) has enough to deal with without the rampant paranoia from idiots like that.  Good thing Calvin was there to calm him down. 

I really need to get some sleep. 

*

I don't know how long I'm out for, but when I awake, he's still in the room - he's not still holding me, but he is still there.  I smile a little bit. 

Even better, I'm not restrained anymore.  I slowly get up, and quickly realize that my balance has changed.  I'm not as unsteady as I'd feared; something to do with the tail, I imagine.  The murse wakes up, and doesn't seem weirded out by my nudity.  For that matter, I'm not weirded out by it, either.  That's a bit unusual.  Come to think of it, though, this whole situation is a bit unusual. 

"How are you feeling?" he moves over to help me walk.  "Do you feel like getting cleaned up a bit?" 

I nod, trying not to sniff myself.  He gestures towards the shower area, showing me how it w*rks.  I drag the I.V. stand over there and get acquainted with the fixtures. 

I get into the 'stall', and take a long shower.  The almost hot water feels... indescribable, if I can use that as a description.  I can feel a stream of ick, the... crud... of being bedridden for... days?... sloughing off of me.  It's about as delicious as that first drink of water had been.  I spend longer in that shower than I need to, simply letting the sensations run over and through me. 

The shower also allows me to do a little exploration of my body.  I've slimmed down quite a bit.  I had been about 5'3", and a little bit over two hundred pounds. 

I know: I was a porker.  My means of dealing with stress was to eat, and I had a surprising amount of stress.  I'm not saying my life sucked, or anything of the sort.  Quite the opposite, I had so much support around me that I don't think my self sufficiency was developed. 

Please don't take this as me blaming anyone for this:  It was all my fault.  I didn't develop any other means for handling stress because they weren't needed.  Every time I was exposed to a new stress, I'd have a snack while someone else handled my problems for me.  As a strategy, it w*rked great for me, and would have allowed me to learn how to deal with things. 

I chose not to deal with things, however:  And the people around me just kept on dealing with things for me.  School being school, there were all sorts of new stresses thrown at me.  I was slowly learning new ways to cope, but the old standard was still there.  I tended to eat a lot, which caused my weight to bloom (explode).  I knew I wasn't healthy, and I'd needed to do something about it. 

Now, however, I'm quite a bit slimmer.  I'm thinking that I'm a bit shorter, too.  It's kind of hard to tell without something familiar to gauge against, but I just kind of feel shorter, you know?  This is without counting the tail, mind you.  My tail's almost as long as I am tall, and starting to grow some hair, finally.  It's hard to tell an exact color when it's that short, but my tail hairs (fur?) seems to be mixed.  Darker and lighter all swirled together.  I'm intensely curious how it will look when it's 'done'. 

The murse had changed the bedding while I was getting cleaned up, and removed the restraints from the bed.  The door is still heavy steel, and the 'window' has that chicken wire in it, but the little bit of freedom is nice.  Moving about on my own is really nice.  Even if I'm dragging the I.V. stand with me. 

I turn to the murse and ask, "Idgk by tgblkt hghr?"  He just smiles at me and nods.  Lord alone knows how he'd understood me. 

"Everything you came in with should be in the drawer there," he points.  I check it out, and find a few things that I need.  Now that I'm sort of awake, I need something to do.  The hospital's hooked up for wi-fi,  and my tablet can use that to connect me to Boredome relief. 

I feel like hugging him.  I don't - that wouldn't be manly, and I am, after all, a man's man (you can laugh:  It's funny) - and instead turn on the tablet and plug in the charger.  I know you're not supposed to keep it plugged in, but I have this fear of being caught without electricity for a prolonged period, and want my lifeline fully charged when it happens.  I giggle (chitter) a little as the screen comes to life:  I am now ready to immerse myself in time wasting. 

After a while, my 'high' from the shower ends, and I'm starting to feel lousy again.  I shiver in my bed with way too many blankets, and tap away on my tablet until food arrives.  I don't know which meal it's supposed to be, because it's a large tray of a bunch of different things.  I suppose that I'm getting nutrients and all from the I.V.s, so this was just to keep my stomach from complaining too much in the interim. 

The tray holds an assortment of things:  The institutional gelatin, some pudding, a few potatoes, some meat strips, cookies, and a piece of not too stale cake.  I pick through it listlessly until I come to the gelatin.  (I'm trying to be good about this, and continue to call it gelatin.  Everyone I know calls it by the most common brand name - just like Kl-  tissues, i guess) 

The gelatin goes down smoothly, and I feel an immediate craving for more.  Calvin, the murse, takes the tray away and brings back a big bowl of the purple stuff.  I don't know what flavor they were trying for with 'purple', but they didn't hit on anything other than 'lightly-sweet'.  Whatever.  It w*rks.  I fall asleep shortly after inhaling the whole bowl.  (Seriously, it was a really big bowl.  Like a half-gallon of gelatin) 

*

Nurse Calvin Stevens

This has got to be one of the weirder jobs I've been on.  The whole world's falling apart out there, and we're babysitting one of them in here.  He seems like a good enough kid, but...  Seriously? 

Doc Hobbes is great.  I mean:  He could be in John-Hopkins or something.  Says he owes an old girlfriend, or something.  Whatever.  This is a podunk town hospital.  I'm not saying money's everything - it's practically nothing - but the chance to do some real doctoring?  That doesn't come along everyday. 

It's certainly come here, though.  Most other hospitals in the country would be lucky to have a setup like this.  It's not the fanciest, with the most high-tech equipment, but it's the safest. 

Three levels down in the basement, with key access only.  The stairs don't even go down this far.  We've already had a few riots over our treating the 'freaks'.  Twenty-four hour Police protection seemed like overkill a few days ago.  Now...? 

Damn virus keeps mutating - jumping around and even retailoring itself.  There are reports of it having jumped to animals.  Given the survival rate of humans without care, I wonder what will survive. 

Pretty sure that a squirrel got mixed up with this kid.  That is a freakishly long tail.  I certainly hope he doesn't freak out too bad when he finds out.  I also hope he doesn't have any frigging explosive abilities like they had in Texas. 

Girl goes to bed one night, wakes up the next night and it's a week later.  She finds herself male, short, and ugly.  She takes off to find her boyfriend and tracks his phone to his other girlfriend's house.  Witnesses say she blew up the house, then couldn't stop her-himself from blowing up as well. 

Let's just check the latest, shall we?  Hmm.  Flying squirrel.  Neat.  Oh, crud.  Let's hope that she doesn't get any of those explosive abilities.  Switching gender teams will be rough enough without killing all of us.  Christian, though.  Maybe... 

Huh.  Apparently, obese people deal with the changes better.  Figures, but no one would have thought it.  Got that 'pimply' thing going on all over.  Wonder if there's a better diet for her than this. 

Wait.  She loved the Jell-o, didn't she?  Wonder if she's using it for hair.  Or fur.  Whatever.  Make a note of it, Cal.  We'll get her through this.  I'm not losing another one.  Not this one. 

 

Chapter FOURTEEN

February 2, 2009

I awake groggy, and start to notice some things that are making me uncomfortable.  I'm restrained again, and there are people shouting around me.  I try sleepily to turn over, but... restraints.  I'm naked and uncovered (but only 'cool'), and no one who was still in the room was going to help me.  I can feel panic starting to set in when Calvin comes in to save me.  I hope.  He looks furious, and I start to shrink into the mattress again. 

He catches himself and tries to grin.  It comes out a little twisted, but it's better than 'I'm going to kill you, now.  You can go easy or hard, but you're going either way.'  I'm not a big fan of that face.  Calvin shakes it off.  "Did they leave you any dignity?"  He shakes his head, angrily.  "I'm trying to get on board with this, but-"  He catches himself.  "Would you like your blankets back?" 

He doesn't wait for my nod, just starts piling them back on me after replacing the first few.  He checks over some things, and changes the empty bags on the tree.  He looks at the order again, and adds another, clipping the line onto the feeder. 

"How are you feeling, this time?  You should try to speak as often as you can, just like if you'd been injured and need rehab, *chuckle* 'cause you've been injured, and you need rehab." 

"Ighb fighkbg.  Chsst alligtl nghgshss," I try.  My voice is a bit weirder than I was expecting.  I don't know why I'm expecting to sound like I always have, but I did.  "Iths sther mrr Jlow?" I ask, hopefully happily.  My ears feel weird, like my scalp is itching. 

He grins at me.  "We got some new 'foods' for you, You should try them before you go into a coma on me again." 

I look at the bags, some are more normal, like I'm 'used' to, but there are two that kind of stand out.  The first, the one he'd just hooked up, was kind of milky, without being all that white.  The other was brown, and kind of looked like coffee. 

"Kffy?" I try. 

'Nope, sorry," he says, and fingers the bags in turn, so that I'll know which he's talking about.  "This," milky, "is gelatin.  This," coffee, "is proteins and minerals.  Your body's w*rking through a lot of changes, and we're trying to keep up with it on this." 

The doctor chooses that moment to walk over, greeting Calvin with a nod and a smile.  he checks over everything - being even more thorough than the murse had been, and that's saying something.  As he turns to talk to me I catch his badge: Dr. John Hobbes.  t takes me a few minutes to put it together, so he was asking me about something when I just started to giggle.  He looks at me concerned for a moment as I continue cracking up. 

"Gklvn nd Hobbss?!?" I cackle.  Calvin smiles and translates.  Hobbes just sighs. 

"Anyways, Mr. Robinson, we've got you on a few new bags that we're w*rking on.  We hope they do what we think they'll do, and make you start to feel a bit better.  If you have a need, or start to feel badly, let one of us know.  We may not be able to help, but we can't even try if you don't let us know." 

I nod.  I certainly want to feel better, and anything that would make it go faster would be a blessing.  'Wait a minute.'  "Wgit amnt.  GKAH!!"  I grab my tablet and type out, "Wait a minute, you're experimenting on me?  Did my parents have to sign for this, or...  What's going on, anyways?"  The doctor reads it, and actually starts to type before he thinks it through.  One sheepish smile later and... 

"You've been exposed to a new virus, we think.  It's re-writing your genetic code, and allowing all sorts of things that normally would not be possible.  For example," he gestures at me, "you appear to be crossed with an animal at the genetic level.  Possibly more than one, but we cannot be certain.  This has forced your body to scavenge itself for raw materials to rework your physical body to match what it's new code is.  I would guess a squirrel of some sort, maybe mixed with something else.  The tail length is a good indicator of squirrel-hood.  They're also flexible without being fully prehensile, though yours may well be.  We'll have to wait until you're finished to know for certain." 

Doctors can be long winded, have you noticed?

"I am in contact with the CDC and colleagues around the globe.  I am fairly certain we can get a handle on whatever this is, so don't worry about it.  We have you in a secure room, with the equipment needed to resuscitate you if your organs stop w*rking temporarily.  There will always be someone around if you need something, or if anything were to go wrong.  There's even a police officer stationed at the hospital entrance in case someone were to-"

Calvin clamps his hand over the doctor's mouth and pushes him outside.  Quickly.  Me?  I'm gettting ready for another panic attack.  Police outside?  Why would there need to be a policeman outside?  How did this happen anyways?  Center for Disease Control?  I like the doctor, and appreciate that he's excited about this, but...  What the heck! 

Calvin comes back in and uses his tried and true method of calming me down.  He hugs me.  Again, it takes a while, but it w*rks.  I also think someone slipped me a sedative, because the next thing i know... 

...I wake up, groggily again.  This time, the people around me don't freak out and scurry away as fast as they can.  That's a plus, I guess.  On the other hand, I get to see what they're doing, and hear the conversations they're having about me.  Yay.  I can also see that I'm going to be a flying squirrel, unless there's something else with patagia that I don't know about.  (I had to use google to get the word 'patagia', btw) 

Having patagia, or gliding flaps, has got to be one of the most inconvenient things when you're stuck in the hospital.  Think it through.  A flap of skin attached from your wrist to your ankles.  There's a sort of cartilage attachment (Google) that makes things go all taut when you want to fly. 

I hope I'll be able to fly.  Or glide.  Whatever you want to call it. 

I've received zero emails from friends, no visits from family, nothing.  I think about writing them, but don't know what to say" 'Hello.  Been a while, yeh?  I'm becoming a flying squirrel.  Nuts! :).', or, "Help!  I'm trapped in a lab somewhere!  They're experimenting on me!  AAhh!!  That's hurts!!  What are you doing with that probe!!!  Why do you think I'm typing this while people are cutting on me?  :)  Laters.' 

I like Calvin, and I really don't mind Hobbes (still gotta chuckle about that.  They both swear that they didn't know about it until someone brought it up to them a year or so after they became friends.  Go figure), but the others are straight out of some secret lab story.  Almost down to the wringing hands thing. 

I can hear them talking, but I don't know what they're saying.  I'm pretty smart, and I read a lot, but they're all waayy ahead of me.  I don't even know who they're talking about half of the time.  Maybe there's someone else who's going through this?  They keep mentioning a 'she', so that's not me, right?  If it's not me, then it must be someone else. 

There we go, problem solved.  Now they're talking about a 'sleep cure', whatever that is.  Something about an induced coma, so that the unpleasantness of the transition will be happening while the patient cannot feel it.  Then some psychological counseling to help with the transition, and they're good to go.

Dr. Hobbes is adamant against it, and Calvin's right there with him.  They're pointing out that the need for psychological counseling would be largely mitigated if the patient is aware during the process.  It seems to them that it would ease the transition, and that unless there's a good reason to skip it, or an unusually high chance of adverse reaction, that the patient should be aware of the changes as they happen, allowing the patient to cope with it slowly.  Having the brunt of a large change dumped on them all at once would seem to be a risky move, and should be avoided.

The other doctor and his hangers-on state the cost of a hospitalized transition, and hope to be able to get a method w*rked out where the patient could undergo the change at home. 

They argue for a while, and then turn to me.  "As the person most affected here, which would you choose?"  The creepy doctors look at me and smile, as if I not only am on their side, but see and enthusiastically endorse the 'sleeper project'.  Their smiles fade a little after a minute when they see I'm still looking at them like they're nuts. 

There might be some people out there who don't want to know anything about what's going on, but my brain still w*rks fine.  It might be that in time, this will be something that you just go to the pharmacy and get a kit for.  Take a day or two and come out a new person.  Heck, it might be that one day you could custom order your changes.  I'd imagine a lot more cat girls, then.  But right now, I'm scared about what's going on.  I don't like mushrooms, and I certainly don't want to be treated like one. 

"Rrr uuu nuts?" Shocked looks from them.  "Whgo wouldln'tt wantt ttoo know whagt wgas going onn?"  Calvin smiles at me.  The others - maybe even Dr. Hobbes - probably think that he's enjoying my support of the 'stay awake' plan.  Nope.  He's just happy that I'm communicating better, and with closer focus. 

They harrumph and posture, but let themselves get chased out of the room (much to my relief).  Dr. Hobbes turns to me and smiles.  "I'm glad to see you're on board with this.  It should make things easier if you can see what's going on, as well as being ale to keep up with your CHANGEs.  By the way, I've gotten an idea about what to call this:  CHANGE!"

He's smiling so big, I feel like a jerk when all I can do was stare at him like I don't know what he was talking about.  His smile falls a little, but then Calvin nudges him and reminds him that I don't know what he's talking about.

"Oh!  Chromosomal and Hormonal AutoNomic Genetic Exchange.  It also w*rks because people are changing!  I've just submitted a paper to the scientific board, and am waiting for the approval to start writing my paper on it.  I have a good feeling about this.  I was worried when I saw that there were other patients that contracted the CHANGE virus before you did, but I haven't seen a paper yet."

He looks so pleased with himself.  I'm quickly becoming a circus side-show freak, and he's pleased because he can put a name to my condition.  Yay.  I try to dredge  up some sort of happy feeling for him, anyways. 

"Thtss  graytt."

He smiles and goes on about all the changes that they've been recording from me, like how I'll need all the calcium for the bones I've been growing.  When he starts on the new bags to aid in skin and hair growth, I just sort of tune him out.  I glance over at Calvin, and he gives me a smirk and rolls his eyes a little.  Then, Dr. Hobbes says something that locks my attention back on him. 

"...when the gender switch is complete.  Then, we'll be able-" 

"WHATGK!  WHgkt jndrkgk."  I have got to slow down.  Concentrate on breathing, and then talk.  "What.  Gendrr.  Chnj." 

Dr. Hobbes looks straight at me and blinks a few times.  "Did no one tell you?  You're becoming a woman.  Well, a woman-squirrel.  Person.  Thing.  Why are you staring... Nurse Calvin, why is she staring at me?" 

Calvin starts out by hugging me.  Points for trying, but it's not w*rking.  "She wasn't told about that, yet.  It's probably a big surprise, and she might not take it well if someone just blurts it out to her with no preparation at all," then to me, "I'm sorry, the doctor isn't the best when it comes to inter-personal skills.  He's top notch about the medicine and the science, but the rest?" 

I'm rocking slowly, trying to get out of my 'shocked' phase.  A girl.  I'm going to be female.  I may already be female.  I'm calming down.  Slowly, mind you.  But calming down. 

"How lllongg?" 

"We think maybe a month, maybe less.  Depends on you."  Hobbes. 

I look at him sharply. 

"It kind of depends on how you respond to this new treatment.  We have hopes for you."  He shows me the catheter bag.  (Yuck, by the way)  "We can see when your body doesn't want a nutrient solution anymore.  We can even see what you're still wanting and give that to you.  There's some talk of adding some low level metabolic boosters, maybe even some light amphetamines, to speed things along."  He shrugs, "I can see the advantage of it, but I think some things will be missed if you rush things before you're ready." 

I nod slowly and turn back to Calvin.  "I.  Wooldd.  Likkkk.  Ttoo.  Cspeekkk.  Bbetttrrrr." 

He smiles and sits back in his chair, "I'm not going anywhere.  Why don't you read me a story?"  He indicates my tablet.  "Are there any good books on that thing?" 

I smile.  "Tde bst boogk."  I call it up.  "Ihn.  Tuh.  Bbiggihnng."  I concentrate a bit harder.  "God. *smile*  Gcreeayttdd.  Tuh.  Hevnnss.  And.  Tuh.  Ertht." 

*

Hobbes

That was embarrassing.  How could I be so stupid to just blurt that out in front of her.  Lack of sleep is one thing, Lack of brains?  Must remember to thank Calvin for his assistance. 

Yes:  The 'sleep cure' would allow things to get going faster, and reduce the strain on the hospitals.  I can see and even endorse that sort of thing.  I'm just not sold on pushing research into it when we're still playing catch-up with the damn virus. 

Every once in a while, I get to thinking about Vicky, and my promise.  I start wondering if I'm doing everything I can, or if I should be somewhere else. 

Then something like this happens.  What are the odds of something like this happening here?  Calvin's tried a few times to get me on board with his 'God's in Control' spiel.  This is one of the times he gains ground. 

Might try a metabolic booster, and some stronger pain meds:  She's feeling a bit worse today (though that might be the psychological torture you've been doing, John) and something to take her mind off of it, or just knock it back a little would be welcome. 

Looking at the charts, it seems like she won't need- 

 

Chapter FIFTEEN

February 16, 2009

Sunday, again.  Of all the things you'd think I'd miss, would you have guessed church?  Yet here I am missing the fellowship of the people of God.  I miss my family (natch), and my friends of course.  But I miss the church at least as much today.  I'm thankful that the tablet I have is connected to the internet, and can therefore keep track of time and date for me.  I can only imagine (good song, btw) how I'd have coped without knowing when I was. 

I've downloaded some of the sermons from other pastors off the web, and I'm not doing too badly keeping up my morale.  Calvin helps loads.  I'm not quite up to my normal speech patterns, but I'm not doing too badly, either.  My voice isn't morphing into some kiddy, cartoony squirrel-squeak - at least, not yet.  I'm curious about how I'll sound. 

I'm also curious about how I'll look.  My face feels all weird and swollen, most of the time.  Calvin says I look great, but he's paid to be nice.  It's starting to feel weird, but not like a muzzle. 

I'm curious about a lot of the changes.  (Not CHANGEs, btw.  Dr. Hobbes was almost two days too late to get to name the affliction.  Some bloke from England got the honors there.  Go figure.  It's MORFS, see.  Massive Ontogenetic Regulation Failure Syndrome.  Cool name - but then, CHANGE w*rked for me, too) 

My feet are longer, maybe a foot, and narrower.  I'm getting claws, hard little black things that aren't terribly sharp, but wickedly pointy.  My 'fur' is growing in.  I look like a patchwork quilt of most every hair color out there. 

And I'm getting boobs.

...Boobs.

I'm trying to cope as best I can, but I'm slowly disappearing (the 'other' me, you see).  There is an awful lot of fiction out there about this sort of thing.  And some of these authors are sick.  Why would anyone want to concentrate on...eugh.  There's likely a reason, and if I asked someone would likely say something like: "You'll understand better when you're older." 

Bah.

None of that is helping me now, though.  I'm sure the change is fascinating, the doctors and nurses (even Calvin) are excited to see what I'm going through.  Okay, I am, too.  But...Aaaugh!  Enough already!  I would like to see something other than this room.  Maybe some trees?  Sniff the breeze, fly a kite, go for a walk?  Anything other than sit here.

Almost anything.  I've had these dreams of vivisection, and... No. 

By The Way, (that's what btw means, you see) they say that the treatment is w*rking, and that things are progressing more swiftly than before.  I have occasionally taken a long nap, a few days here or there.  Sometimes I've had help, but this last one was all me. 

Going to the bathroom is... we'll call it interesting.  Not because of my few manly bits disappearing, or having to sit down to do anything on the toilet.  Not even having to wipe when you do your anything.  Nope.  It's the tail.  Think it through.  If you sit normally, your (long, bushy) tail is all cramped up against the wall, and your fur gets all messy and dirty.  If you raise said tail high enough, you look like (and feel like) you're going to spray the wall behind you.  The solution:  turn around. 

It sounds simple, but few things really are.  I feel like I'm doing something more than vaguely obscene everytime I sit down.  And wiping with anyone in the room?  Pass.  I understand that the Japanese have this sort of bowlless toilet thing that sits in the ground.  Must remember to look into this. 

I am likely going to let them put me under for a bit, just to let them test the sleeper thing.  If it w*rks, then they'll start to prescribe it for most changes, after they see a direction, and can try to deal with any roadbumps.  Like having to grow a tail, for instance.  Or a lot of fur.  That sort of thing.  There are times I hate my life. 

I immediately turn around and mentally smack myself.  Jesus went through worse, with less support (okay, He's God, but He wasn't using most of that, just the knowledge.  And anyone who knows will tell you how comforting a little knowledge isn't), so I can do this without complaining (too much). 

Calvin rolls in a cart.  It's loaded with about twelve bags of stuff.  He starts explaining things to me, which bag is what. 

"It's okay.  I'm kind of hoping I can wake up and get out of here, you know?"  He looks at me like he's trying to find a way to tell me something unpleasant.  "I know I'll have more tests, and the like, but it's a step.  An important step." 

Calvin nods at me, smiling.  "Okay.  See you in a while, Ms. Robinson."  The sobriquet chills me, but I try a smile and settle in for (hopefully) the last time. 

*

Hobbes

Okay, okay.  This sleep cure thing seems to be working much better than I feared.  The changes (still a little salty about it not being CHANGES) seem to progress faster, even without a metabolic booster.  Darn it.  'Doctor' Brahms actually had a good idea. 

I wonder if I was resistant simply because it was his idea.  'Need to watch that, John.' 

She should wake up in an hour or so, I'd imagine.  I wonder how she'll take it?  Calvin's having a rest:  He'll need to be around to keep her calm.  She'd seemed good to go when she went under, but... 

She's pretty cute.  That might help. 

 

Chapter SIXTEEN

March 7, 2009

Consciousness comes to me slowly, teasingly.  I can taste things before I hear them.  The first physical sensation is of something tickling my throat.  I open my eyes, then realize that they're already open, and I had to - somehow? - consciously decide to see things.  'Why' was lost with all that I was seeing, and suddenly hearing and feeling and... 

"Ouch." 

It's nice that I can still speak okay, but I've the worst headache and the bright lights aren't helping.  There's a slew of foul odors, and I can taste some of them.  I itch, and moving is simultaneously the worst sensation/idea I've ever had, and the best thing ever.  And the more I move, the better I feel.  The good gets better, and the bad lessens.  So I keep moving. 

"Could someone please turn the lights down?" Wow.  My voice is weird: it's all low and almost growling.  What's up with that?  I thought I was becoming a girl, and my voice is deeper than Dad's. 

"They're already as low as they'll go.  I'll have to turn one off."  Whoever it was that said that, did so with a resounding 'click'.  Now that it wasn't painful to look around, I see that it was Calvin who'd said it.  He didn't sound like him, though.  His voice is a little lower, too.  Not as low as mine, but... 

"Cal, you okay?  Your voice sounds weird." 

"I'm fine, but your voice is a little deeper, hun.  You need to be careful, you'll be driving the boys wild before you'll know what you want to do with them."  He smiles, "That might be what you want, but I thought you nice Christian girls were better than that." 

I wince a little about the girl thing, but I'd told him to treat me like a girl, so I could get used to it.  I guess he's taking me at my word.  Huh.  I breathe deeply, then cough mightily.  Wow!  I reek

"Could I get cleaned up before the dog and pony show?"

He nods, still smiling, and waves me towards the shower.  I get up, and it's amazing how good it's starting to feel, and move towards the shower.  I've been bedridden for who knows how long, and had barely gotten up for a month before that (nothing to do), so it's surprising how easy it is to move.  I've got things moving that I'd never had before, and I'm missing things that I was used to feeling.  I put it all down to my tail. 

As I move forward, I can feel my tail correct itself for balance.  I start to move around, sidestepping and jumping a little to see how it reacts.  Calvin chuckles a little, reminding me of what I'm  supposed to be doing, as well that I have an audience. 

The shower's wonderful.  I can feel the crud running out of my fur (did I mention the fur?  Before I went under, I'd just been getting hairy) as I use the shampoo liberally over my whole body.  There's a lot of hair mixed in with the dirt going down the drain.  I don't care, I'm finally starting to feel great for the first time this year.  I turn the water off (finally!) and stand there, dripping. 

I start to look for a towel, but Calvin says, "Wait up."  He touches a switch, and air (it feels cool, but is a little over warm) billows around me.  I start to run my hands through my fur:  Trying to wring out the water, as well as fluff myself up.  It w*rks a treat, and I'm dry in minutes.

"I'm going to need one of those for home," I said.  "Do you know where I can get one?"

He laughs warmly, "About six thousand for the pair, and you'll want both, otherwise you'll look like you came out of a wind tunnel."

I join him in laughing, though I think it's going to be a problem.  I can imagine showering before school, and having to wait an hour or two before heading out.  I try to imagine a better solution, but I'm coming up empty.  Maybe I'll think of something before too long.  I sure hope so. 

There isn't anything to wear that w*rks with my patagia, but I'm still not too concerned about the nudity:  This is a hospital, and I'm covered in fur.  There still isn't a mirror, and I'm dying to discover what I look like now that I'm done changing. 

"Is there a mirrorr?" I ask, cringing a little at the mispronunciation.  "I'd like to see what you all are seeing." 

"I'll have one sent down, if you'd like.  Or you can wait the hour or so until they kick you free."

"Mirror.  Please."  I'm being very careful with the pronunciation this time.  Calvin nods and walks out of the room for a minute, then walks back in with a thumbs-up.  "Thank you, nurse Calvin."

He stops dead, then turns to me and, very formally, "It was my deepest pleasure, ma'am."

I smile at him, and don't even cringe with the 'ma'am'.  Not much anyways.  Certainly not now.  I look at myself without the mirror, trying to get an overview.  I'm certainly more shapely than I'd expected, not having seen many plump squirrels.  I should have expected it, as I've always been a bit chunky.  My fur is odd, with all 'normal' hair colors present, but brownish-red being predominant. 

The biggest thing that I can see is the chest.  Or should that be 'biggest things'.  I still don't know how tall I am, but my chest looks huge.  I know I'm not used to having anything there, but... Wowza.  I've never noticed the sizing scale on bras, so I can't tell you how big... precisely, but these seem to be worth a look at.  Even covered in all that poofy blond fur... 

I notice that Calvin is wearing more clothing than usual, and wonder if maybe they've lowered the temperature in the room to make me more comfortable.  I hope so.  They haven't all of them been very nice to me at all. 

The doctors arrive with the mirror, and they're studying me as much as I'm studying myself.  My face is fuzzy, and an almost perfect (imho) blend of squirrel and girl.  My eyes are bigger than I'd have thought, and an unusual golden brown, with reddish highlights.  I have a sort of raccoon mask, in three shades of grey, and black lips under a tannish pink nose. 

The head's round-ish, and oval-ish from the side.  Not as pointed as most squirrels I'd seen (and I had been doing a bit of research trying to see what I might be looking like) but I don't have an 'outie' nose anymore.  It's sort of included with the 'muzzle' I almost have. 

My ears - wow!  They're larger than I'd thought they'd be, perched atop my head.  They swivel like a cat's, trying to catch ambient sounds from everywhere.  Tipped in black, the insides are the cutest pink I've seen yet, and makes me into this cute little squirrel girl.  I want to hug myself, that's how cute I am now.  Weird. 

The doctors are wrapping up their tests, asking all the questions about how I feel, and if there is anything else new I want to ask them about.  I'm shaking my head when a thought pops into my head, "What about my new...stuff?  My plumbing?" 

I am so glad I'm covered in fur, though I suspect my blush will scorch the fur on my face.  They look at me all weird for a second, and then they get it and blush, too.  They all start to speak at once, and I'm getting confused for maybe a second and a half, and then something locks into place.  They're describing a colleague of theirs, one who doesn't make appearances because of allergies to fur, and they say that she might be able to help me if I need it.  Though I suppose that if I need to know something, Mom will tell me. 

I've got about an hour's worth of paperw*rk to deal with, for which they've provided me a lawyer.  I might have been leery about accepting his services, but they seem happy to help me get more compensation out of the insurance, and other government programs.  They don't have to pay for it, after all.  I'll also be getting a little of the research money that they'll be getting.  After paying the hospital for the room and care, I'll still have a goodly sum left over.  It seems like an obscene amount of money to me, until I start to add up the things I'll need to have to take care of myself:  The blower in the bathroom is an absolute necessity.  (think I lie?  Then think about spending an hour in the bathroom every day you shower just to get dry

My introduction to feminine hygiene comes in dressed in a HAZMAT suit.  I wish I was kidding about that, but... No.  I feel the urge to go for the first time in a while, and she tells me what to do, and how to clean up.  I'm getting instruction on womanly products that I will likely need to cover more extensively with my Mother later.  Yay.  They're not yet sure about my cycle (I've already completed one while I 'slept'), and I will have some follow-ups in the future. 

I'm finally able to leave, and when I call home, my Dad answers.  "Robinson's."  At least, I think it's Dad:  The voice isn't quite right.  New ears messing with things, I guess. 

"Dad?  Can I come home now?" 

"I'm sorry, who is this?" 

"What?  It's me!  Eric?  Your s-s...  Your son?  Sort of?  You remember me, don't you?"  I'm practically in tears at this point, and I think he hears that.  I don't think he knows what to do about it, but that's another matter.  "They're letting me out.  Can I come home?  Please?"  I'm bawling at this point, and it doesn't matter to me that I'm in public, surrounded by a bunch of people I don't know.  I'm 'dressed' in two of those hospital gowns:  Both open to allow my patagia out. 

"Is there a doctor there that I can talk to?  Maybe try and sort this out?"  It's killing me that my own father doesn't know who I am, and needs another person to verify me.  I understand, but it still kills me. 

"Sure,"  I'm sure my voice sounds as dead as I feel, but I can't do anything about that right now.  I wave Calvin over, tears streaming down my face. 

"What's up, Twitch?" he asks.  'Twitch' is a squirrel in a silly children's animated movie that came out a few years ago, I think.  It's alright as a handle, but I'm not in the mood for levity at the moment. 

"Daddy doesn't think I'm me," I wail as I hand him the phone.  He looks at me, stunned.  The he glares at the phone, and takes a deep breath.  He starts talking to my Dad, but I'm not even paying attention to it.  I try to sit down, and end up hurting myself with my seven feet of tail failing to get out of the way. 

Seven feet of tail (actually, it's seven feet and three inches, but...) - I'm barely five feet tall, and I've got a tail that's seven freaking feet long.  It's mostly flat, too, thanks to the 'flying' part of my squirrel.  It's almost prehensile, meaning I can wrap it around stuff and give people hugs.  I've ninja hugged Calvin that way a number of times. 

Calvin turns back to face me.  "Your Dad's coming to get you, and I'll stay with you to explain things to him.  You're going to be all right, you hear me?  That's an order."  He's grabbing my cheeks at this point, making me look at him. 

I nod.  I then wrap myself into a miserable furry ball on the chair.  As small as I am, when I crouch in a chair like this, I can completely surround myself with fur.  It's warm and comforting, especially when the rest of my life is cold and frightening.  He sits with me, trying to engage me in conversation.  After failing for five full minutes, he gives up and uses me for an arm rest.  Eventually just leaning on me as we wait.  I know that he's going for comedy, but I need the contact, so I don't say anything. 

*

Dad

All at once:  The call I've been praying for and dreading.  'Eric' doesn't sound like Eric.  He sounds more like one of those actresses that my Lily hates.  Not the brightest (though I doubt that's what they hire her for), but pretty enough.  Her voice, on the other hand:  She's got the whole seductive/smoky thing down cold. 

Just like 'Eric'.  I'm hoping that that was him, and at the same time hoping that someone messed up.  Maybe.  I don't know. 

"Lily-fair?  That was the hospital:  Eric's ready to come home." 

"Let's go get him, then!  I'll get my coat, and-" 

"Lily?  You're not coming."  She just looks at me.  "They've not said, and I didn't ask;  but Eric doesn't sound like he used to.  So he likely won't look like he used to.  You've seen the news?  A lot of these MORFS survivors have undergone a change, some of them have been drastic.  Can you imagine if he's become a rat?  Or something like that?"  She's looking properly frightened:  She hates rats, my Lily does.  "I'll go get him.  Why don't you make sure everything's ready for our return."  She nods, and I go give her a hug. 

Why does it feel like it'll be the last? 

Lily's car will not start, no matter how I try.  It's likely something stupid, but Eric's waiting for me to get him.  I switch to the truck and notice the new plugs I'd bought for her car.  Feeling foolish, I put them in and get it started. 

Traffic, and then more traffic.  What the heck?!  It'll be an hour before I get there, at this rate.  Now there's an accident on the road, probably someone rushing things. 

'Trying to tell me something, Lord?' 

I pull over and get some sandwiches from McDonalds.  By the time I'm out of there, the accident's clearing.  'Thank you.'  I make my way (finally) to the hospital. 

*

An hour goes by, and my Dad doesn't show.  Calvin tries to tell me all of the things it could be keeping him from me.  Traffic at the half hour mark.  Probably wanted to talk to Mom about getting my room ready at forty minutes.  Stopped for a burger and fries for me at forty-five minutes.  The kicker is when he says my Dad might have gotten into an accident on the way and will arrive in an ambulance any minute now. 

That startles a laugh out of me - until a few seconds later, when an ambulance rolls in and the paramedics jump out.  They're talking about an accident that just occured four blocks away from here.  I jump out of my seat, and Calvin pulls me back as he rushes forwards.  They're all extremely busy trying to keep the poor guy alive, while I'm trying to get a look at him to see if I know him. 

It's not my Dad, because while they're rushing the poor guy away, I see Dad crossing the parking lot.  He steps inside, ignoring me as he looks for someone to talk to.  I stop him as he's going towards the front desk. 

"Daddy?" 

He starts, then turns too look at me and starts again.  "E-Eric?"  I nod, crying all over again.  He takes a step towards me, "You look... different." 

I laugh, still crying.  "I'm the first CHANGE in Ohio, they tell me.  The tenth to complete the change, but the first to get it."  I look down at myself, holding out my arms.  I look up, "Some changes take longer, I guess." 

He's nodding as he steps towards me, slowly.  "How... Why...  When... Who?"  He takes a deep breath.  "Your Mother will not take this well at all."  I cringe.  With everything that's happened, I forgot that Mom's afraid of squirrels.  Well, she's afraid of all furry rodent critters, but definitely squirrels, too.  Not bats, though.  Weird.  I have kind of a weird family. 

"What are we going to do with me?" 

"We'll think of something, don't you worry."  I would be more convinced, and certainly more comforted, had he not continued softly, "I don't know what, but we'll think of something." 

 

Chapter SEVENTEEN

March 7, 2009

There isn't much conversation in the car ride home: both of us are likely imagining how things will go with Mom.  A testament to this is when we pull in the garage:  He's just sitting there with the car still running for almost a minute before he turns it off.  He bids me wait a minute while he tells Mom.  I'm not happy, but I don't think I'll be any happier seeing it firsthand. 

Things are quiet for a few moments, then Dad steps outside to wave me in.  I get out of the car and start trembling.  'What if she freaks out?  What if they reject me?'  Tears are forming and I can't seem to stop them. 

Slowly I step towards the house, afraid of my reception.  I should not be terrified of this:  My homecoming... but I am.  I have to force myself to walk the thirty feet towards the door.  I can see Mom in the window, see her winding up for a scream.  She starts shrieking and I think she's actually fainted.  Dad rushes inside to help her, and I follow him in. 

I get a glass of water, and he's slapping her lightly to get her to come to.  I hide as she starts awake.  She looks around wildly as Dad speaks to her calmly, bringing her back down.  He takes the water from my furry hand as she watches.  He hands it to her and she looks at it strangely, and sniffs it before she drinks from it.  I laugh:  I can't see her reflection, but I sure can hear her sniffing.  It seems so out of character for her that I had to giggle. 

"Eric Alexander Robinson you stop laughing at me this instant!" 

"Sorry, Mom." 

"Now, step out so I can see you.  Slowly."  What is she, a police officer?  Is she going to demand to see my hands? 

I chuckle a little before my nerves keep me from doing so, then I step out.  I show her my tail first, figuring it would be better that way if she's going to freak out some more.  She's staying calm, so I back slowly into view.  She's all right until she sees my boobs, I don't think she'd expected to have a daughter. 

She falls apart when she sees my face, however.  She's trying, I can see that.  But I can also see the panic rising in her.  I jump back around the corner as she stifles a shriek. 

"What's it doing in our house?  Get it out of here!  Get it away!  Ki-" 

I flee.  I go up to my room and start to get a few things together, but then put it all down.  My clothes don't fit me anymore, even without the patagia.  My toys seem stupid now, and I can't exactly carry my computer out, now can I.  I hear Dad coming up the stairs. 

"We're going to have to try something a little different.  She doesn't know if she can handle this, but we're going to try,"  I start to protest but he cuts me off, "I'm going to make you up a room over the garage, and then I'll see about making you a room somewhere more permanently.  You'll come and get your meals, and be seen around, and we'll w*rk up to longer exposures.  I'm sorry about this, but-" 

"You chose her, we were given to you."  I complete the quote he's used so many times in the past.  He loves us, all of us.  But she's the one he's going to grow old with, while we run off to our futures.  I've never disagreed before, and I'm not going to start now.  I *nod* to Dad, "I'll try to not be a bother, as much as I can." 

He nods, "She's going to go shopping for some things you'll need, let's get your things into the garage." 

"I don't think I'll need most of this.  The clothes don't fit me, and my toys just take up space.  All I need is my computer and a place to sleep, maybe a hammock?" 

"I'll see what I can arrange.  Why don't you take down your computer and get it ready?" 

I nod and start on my task.  But then I wonder, 'Am I stronger?'  While I'm carrying it, the problem is size, not weight.  I'd always had a problem before trying to carry it, but now it feels like it doesn't weigh nearly as much.  My problem now is shorter arms, and hands with claws.  Also... patagia.  I manage to get everything out to the garage in four trips, none of them particularly difficult.  

I find Dad upstairs in his woodw*rking shop.  He's found a few eyelets and is screwing them into the walls.  I start to bring everything upstairs, one trip at a time.  I get the last of it upstairs just as he's finishing up with the last eyelet. 

"I called your Mother and she's going to try and find a hammock, or else the material that she'll need to make one." 

I just nod, "Where should I set this up?" 

He points over to an area with some scraps in it and I hump everything over there.  Dad leaves me to get things set up, while he goes to find some phone wire and a jack.  I've gotten everything hooked up  by the time he gets back, and we install a jack for the internet in my new room. 

"I'll try to get things together for your new room as quickly as I can." 

"It's no bother, I ca-" 

"I'll want my shop back, thank you very much.  You'll have to help out, too.  I want to see plans for your room by the start of the week, that gives you two days." 

I just nod.  He smiles and leaves.  I start to think about what kind of a room I want, which leads me to thinking about where to put said room.  I'm thinking about all the usual places: attached to the house, basement, built onto the garage, etc.  Then I start to think about squirrels.  I look at my hands and feet, then go outside. 

I can't exactly walk up the side of the garage, but it isn't all that hard to climb it, either.  I get to the roof, and start scoping out a design for a room on the roof when I notice the tree.  It's a huge old oak that I gave up climbing years ago, when the lowest branch broke under my fat butt.  'I bet I could climb it now, though.' 

I'm all set to climb down, when the wind picks up, catching my patagia.  It doesn't blow me off - thanks to my toe claws in part - but it gives me an idea.  I take a few steps and jump a little.  I have this momentary 'Are you NUTS?!?' moment:  But everything just kind of clicks, and there I am:  Flying.  Gliding, actually, but it's still awesome.  Everything slows way down, almost like I'm travelling through the air in a movie.  I have another momentary panic attack just before I hit the tree, but (instinctively) I pull up at the last second (or seven) and cling to the tree. 

"Whoo-Hoo!" 

I spend about an hour all told in the tree, imagining how the tree house will be.  Where I'll sleep, how the rooms will be laid out.  Oh, yeah.  Rooms

I'm thinking of a three level tree house with my bed at the peak, a nice reading/studying/social area just below, and the 'ground floor' holding the bathroom and kitchen.  I realize that there is no way Dad's going to go for it - but, man!  It's surely a nice dream. 

Indeed, he isn't willing to go that far for a tree house - though he likes that I'm thinking big, and he really loves the blueprints I drew up.  He goes over them with me (did I mention he's a contractor?), showing me how to draw what I want, and what codes go where, and for what.  I'm also told what will happen to not only my tree house room, but also the house proper, when the tree dies, as this one will likely do in another ten years, maybe fifteen. 

Trees get sick, just like people.  Not like a cold, where you're out of it for a few days, mind you.  But seriously sick, like cancer, and fungal rots, and...  Ick.  So, I'll need a younger, healthier, yet still-large-enough-to-have-what-I-want-in-it tree.  We don't have anything like that in our yard.  Shucks. 

He's still willing to put my room in the tree, because I'll be moving out of it in a few years, anyways.  It (my 'room') will be able to have two rooms:  A sleeping chamber and a reading/study area.  I still like it, and give him a hug. 

It surprises us both, let me tell you.  I've always felt like I should be a hugger, but 'real men don't hug' has been drilled into me from my friends since I was seven.  Nuts to that, I say.  (Nuts, heh.) 

One of the perks, I'd say, of my condition is that I can now get away with hugging people again.  Assuming, of course, that they're okay with being in close contact with a squirrel girl.  Who used to be a guy.  And who flies.  (Well, glides, really) 

*Sigh* 

You think your life is complicated?  Try mine for a while, please.   

Speaking of which, I should call my friends and let them know what's up.  I go inside to use the phone (I've never liked cell phones so I've never carried one.  Now I don't have a pocket to carry one anyways) and pass my Dad on his way out to get some things for my room, and check with other contractor friends of his about codes and permits. 

I call Jimmy first, but he's not in.  "He's out on a date, would you believe it?  With that nice girl, Sarah Brown, no less.  I've been a bit despairing of him ever finding anyone - sorry, I have to go.  He'll call you later.  What was your name?" 

Wow.  I totally forgot that I'm not me anymore.  "Uhh.  Just have him call Eric Robinson?  I'm sort of a friend of the- no!  I'm related to them!  A cousin!  Twice removed.  On Mom's, I mean - On his mother's side.  Bye!!" 

'Smooth, Eric.'

I'm smiling as I hang up on his mother, though.  Good for Jimmy.  And Sarah!  I'll have to remember to tease him about that. 

Matt's home, though, and he accepts my call (he has a cell phone and isn't too conceited as to screen his calls from friends, which I still am), even though he's doing research for a term paper.  Or, maybe because he's w*rking on his term paper.  Hmmm.  Oh, well.  At least I get to talk to him. 

"Eric!!  Man, It's good to hear from you!  Where you been?  Your voice sounds weird!  You still sick?  I thought you went to the hospital to get better!  You've been gone for like three months, man!  What happened?  You just dropped off the face of the Earth one day, and no one's heard from you?  Not even Marcie Keller, and she's able to keep track of everyone, you know?  I asked my dad about what was going on, but he couldn't find out without a lot of interference from the government, you know?  I mean a lot.  So?  What's going on?  Tell me, man!  I need to know what's happened to you!  Didja call Jimmy, yet?  He's out with some chick he met in band - Sarah?  Was it?  Why don't you ever talk, man?  Getting answers from you is like pulling teeth!  Aargh!  Talk, would you?  I-" 

"MATT!!  Calm down and let someone else talk, okay?" I shout into the phone.  I'd like to say that this never usually happens, but I'd be lying.  He's Italian, and he likes to have arguments, just to keep in shape.  He used to have a problem while talking on the phone, but then he discovered bluetooth.  Now he can be Italian and talk without incident.  (should I explain for my non-Italian readers?  Italians tend to talk with their hands.  I sometimes think that interrogators thought of restraining peoples hands because of Italians.  They're too freaked out trying to talk that they can't lie as well.  Might even be true) 

"Okay, okay.  Talk, already.  Or do you want to come over?  I can come and get you, if you'd like.  I know you don't like walking through the woods alone, but I can come and get you.  Okay?  I'll be right over!" 

He hangs up before I can say anything, so I know I'll have about five minutes before I see him.  'How do I want to do this?'  I don't want him to freak out on me before I can talk to him.  I really don't want to freak him out and have him go all psychotic like my Mom.  I decide to make a sign, and stay in my temporary room and wait there.  That should w*rk. 

I get some paper and markers, and make a sign with a little squirrel on it pointing to the garage.  'At least I can still draw'.  Then I tape it up and go to my room to wait.  Okay:  Then I walk back to the sign and write 'GARAGE' on it.  Then I go to my room to wait.  Again. 

I don't have to wait long, though.  Less than a minute after I sat down (carefully) I hear a knocking on the garage door. 

"Come in!" 

Matt starts to run up the stairs.  "Dude, what's going on?  Why are you in the garage?  Wha-"  Then he sees me.  "What the f*ck!"  He shrieks a little and whips his knife out.  I just stand there with my arms out (the 'I'm not armed' pose rather than the 'I want a hug' pose) and wait for him to get a grip.  It only takes a few moments, less than a minute. 

"Dude... Eric?  Is that you?"  *nod* "What the f*ck happened to you?  Dude?" 

"Please stop swearing at me, you know I don't like it, Matt." 

"Sorry, man.  Girl...  Squirrel girl, ma'am.  Fu-... Man!" 

"I'm still me, Matt.  Just a new body I'm still trying to get used to." 

"Yeah... *Ahem!*  You got any clothes, or something?"  He's turning red. 

"You can't see anything because of the fur, and it's dark up here anyways," I say, cocking my hip and waving my other, non-hip-resting hand over the rest of my body.  "Do you have a problem with it?" 

"No!  Yeah.  Maybe?  A little?"  He blushes and turns around.  "I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this, I can tell you.  What's up with your voice?  You sound kinda... hot- Different!  Where's your folks?  Shouldn't they be around, keeping you safe from rapists, and thugs, and such?"  He's looking around, as if my parents were just hiding and waiting for him to mess up, somehow.  "How does this shi- stuff! -  even happen?  They took you out of school after that as*ho- jerk! - Todd almost killed you, then nothing!.  Are you okay?" 

I nod.  "Dad's getting some things for my new room, and Mom's shopping for more essentials, and I don't expect either of them to be back for a while.  My Mom's really freaked out about this.  You remember how scared she is about mice and squirrels, and such?"  He *nods* at me, then shakes his head with some genuine sympathy. 

Matt had dressed up as a rat for Halloween one year, white fur coat, buck teeth and some makeup whiskers.  He wasn't even wearing the ears when he and his parents got to our house.  Mom wouldn't let him in the house until he changed his costume.  He wore a sheet and became a ghost for an hour while they'd visited.  "A ghost rat," he'd told me secretly, lest my Mother find out. 

"She was yelling at Dad to 'Kill it!' before I got outside.  I'm not thinking she was all there, right at that moment.  You know?"  I shake my head, trying not to cry again.  "Anyways, Dad's putting me up in his shop until he can build me a new room."  I grin a little, "A tree house bedroom." 

Matt's mouth opens up and he gapes at me.  "Are you f*cking kidding me?  Your own tree house bedroom?  You lucky b - *cough* - girl.  Yeah, girl.  'Cause you're a girl, now.  Man!  That's f-...messed up." 

We start talking like normal after that.  I did have to wrap my tail around my torso before he'd turn around, which cracked me up.  I got him to touch my fur, though he almost died from terminal blushing.  I told him I wasn't going to do anything with a Guinea, no matter how  he begged me.  Which got him arguing about how the Italians were the greatest race the Earth had ever seen, and I countered with the Welsh.  We'd had the argument before, with neither of us usually winning, just enjoying the argument. 

My Dad finally comes home, which tells me we've been talking for a while.  Matt gets up, and we go down to talk to Dad, and see if he needs help with anything.  He's always greeted Matt warmly, just happy that I had a friend.  This time he starts out as usual, then suddenly shifts gears, and squints at us.  It takes me a moment, but... 

"Dad!  No!!  Ewww!" 

"Mr. Robinson, I would never-" 

"As if!  We were talking, Dad!  Sheesh!" 

"Yeah!  Talking!  About...  Stuff!  Yeah!  School and stuff!" 

We're still explaining when Mom pulls up.  I hear the garage door opening up and freeze, deer-in-headlights style.  I break free and am up the stairs in a flash, my long tail taking a moment to catch up with me.  I hear them greeting her as she gets out of the car.  She greets them as she usually does:  Dad gets a kiss, and Matt gets a firm, yet oddly cold "Matthew."  I can feel her nodding sternly. 

"Where is h-...she?" she asks. 

I assume that Matt's pointing up the stairs, because it's Dad who says, "She went upstairs when you pulled up." 

"I will need you to get her measurements so I can get started sewing these."  Dad must have started saying something, because she continues, "I will not have my daughter running around naked.  The school will not allow it, even if I would.  Please do this before you leave for w*rk on Monday."  They then leave, going to the house. 

'Man!'  I'm in a bit of a weird mood:  I'm sitting in a funk because she still won't see me, yet I'm oddly warmed by her determination that I was her daughter.  That's nice. 

I'm also feeling a bit abandoned.  It's nothing, really:  But I would have liked to have said goodbye to Matt. 

Oh, well. 

I stay up for a while, then go to bed.  I say that despite not having a bed yet, because it sounds better than, 'I went to bench.'  Or how about:  'I benched myself.'? 

That night I start having odd dreams.  Dreams about being sold by my Mother to government labs.  Labs which vivisect me to discover how this all happened and how to make it happen.  I don't sleep all that well during this night. 

*

Matt

Man!  That was weird!  What is it about this stupid disease?  What'd they start calling it?  MORFS?  Mutant-somethingsomething-  Aahh!.  Whatever it is, it really did a number on Eric.  Erica? 

I don't know what I'd choose:  Butterball, or sexy squirrelchick.  Okay, I know what I'd pick, but I'm glad I don't have to.  Guess Eric didn't get to choose, either.  I hope they get on this thing and get us a cure, or something. 

Wonder what he's gonna do about school?  Is the school even going to take him back?  Her back?  That's probably the most messed up about this whole thing.  Okay, maybe not.  The squirrel thing's pretty messed, too.  But being a girl? 

He's-She's missed - what? - three months, or thereabouts?  I know it's different when it's medical, but how much can you miss before they take steps?  She's ahead by a year, I think, so... 

Need to get a hold of Jimmy.  He's with Sarah.  Where would he take her?  Scratch that.  Where would she make him take her?  Movies?  That'll be later.  Eating now, and then a movie.  Need to check movies at the mall - where's my phone? 

Okay... Artsy chick flick at the mall starts at seven-twenty, so...  They'll be there about five-thirty, unless she's a shopper.  Doesn't dress like a shopper, but... 

Okay:  Find something to do until five.  Time to do some research, then I'll get to the mall. 

It's good to have a plan. 

*

Dad

"What is wrong with me?!  Eric's finally home and..." 

I step in and hug her.  "Sshh.  None of that now, Lily-fair:  This - what is it, again? - MORFS thing has us reeling, but we're getting better."  *sniff*  "Eric's healthier than he's - she's ever been.  I'm not sure, but she seems happier, too.  Though that might be the drugs." 

"Drugs?  What drugs?"  She looks alarmed, so I try to calm her down. 

"They've likely had her on a few things to keep her from freaking out while she was in their care.  What?  Do you think anyone could come through something like this without some major troubles?  Unlikely." 

"Are they going-" 

"Tch, now.  Lily-fair, our daughter's fine and well.  She's come through this changed, but...  Dinnae ye worry 'bout her just now, lass.  I'm thinking you've something else entirely to be concerning yourself with, do you not?"  *giggle*  Finally.  "Do you not think you're overdressed for this next part?" 

 

 

Chapter EIGHTEEN

March 8, 2009

I've spent two months away from church, and now I can't go again!  Both because my Mother would freak out if I was in the car, and because I'm naked.  It's not like either of those things are my fault.  Just another casualty of my illness. 

One of many. 

My brothers have been called and informed about my not being in the hospital anymore.  Neither of them has come home to see me.  Seriously?!? 

Derek is busy, both with school, and also with Stephanie.  I can give him a pass, I guess.  Still, you'd think that, 'Hey!  Your brother's not dead, but a squirrel girl hybrid who can fly and really freaks Mom out!  Come see her!' would be an appropriate thing.  Billy, however, has no such excuse.  Okay:  He's got school, too.  There's something else going on with him, though. 

He's been sporadic with his phone calls, and we're not sure he's ever learned how to write (he hasn't sent a letter, anyways).  I'm sort of halfway thinking he's getting into something he shouldn't oughta be involved in.  No one's talking to me about it, though. 

I try for twenty minutes to play my trumpet, but my lips can't compensate for the new shape of my mouth to get a sound out.  There's no one to talk to, can't play my trumpet, and playing computer is hard because of my nails.  I ruined my keyboard by puncturing a key while excited.  It still w*rks, but the key is at a different level due to being punctured. 

*sigh* 

I finally decide that I need exercise, so I write a note stating I'll be back in a little while.  Climbing up onto the roof isn't too hard, and from there I just let my wings take over. 

There's a small hill in the back-back yard with a pond just beyond it.  The woods start just after that, and they go on for miles.  Literally.  It's like two or maybe three miles before you get to more roads.  But trees are trees.  I glide out to the hill, then w*rk out how to get into the air from the ground. 

Normal flying squirrels are hardly ever on the ground, mostly because they can't move very fast unless they're gliding.  My legs, however, seem to w*rk just fine.  I can jump about twenty feet into the air, maybe a little more with a running start.  With such a start, I find that I can glide over the pond and into the woods.  I have to jump again once I get there to get into the trees, but it's a start. 

Flying is the bomb.

I worm my way around tree trunks, climb up trees to look around, and generally make a nuisance of myself to the animals of those woods. 

It's a blast! 

I let my imagination run reign over my time out there.  The water's a little too cold for swimming, but it tastes just fine.  I see a fox coming out of its den.  I want to go over there and see if it has kits, but that's not being a good neighbor, so I don't.  Darn it.  

I'm starting to get hungry, so I make my way back to my room.  The glide from the hilltop is just perfect.  I see that I forgot to leave the door open, but I can land on the deck and get in from there. 

I'm a little freaked out by my Dad getting up from my chair as I enter, though. 

"Gah!"

"Sorry, Eric.  Your lunch is on the table."  He points.  "Your Mother wants me to get your measurements," he blushes.

I shrug and grab some fries and stuff them in my mouth.  I smile a little then I grab the rest, unwrap the burger and stuff it in there, too.  I smile at him, my cheeks full of food.  He looks at me and laughs, a little at first, then it really hits and he almost drops to the floor.  I just stand there with my arms outstretched, and let him take the measurements. 

It's a little odd to be felt up.  It's weird and downright creepy to be felt up by your Dad.  Mom's apparently instructed him on how to measure what.  I don't know how, mind you. 

"Dad?  How do-"  It's not easy to have a conversation with your cheeks full of food.  I shift things about and just fill those pouches.  "How do you know how to do this?  Eep!" 

"Sorry.  She showed me how to do this, and made me practice on her but..." how his face is not on fire, I'll never know, "It's a little different with you."  Aah.  There's my answer. 

Doesn't make it any less creepy, but it does make it go faster. 

He doesn't discuss anything with me, no numbers or anything.  He just takes off after finishing.  As creeped out as I am, I really don't mind so much, you know?  I imagine he's a bit creeped out, himself. 

I've just eaten, and I still don't want to play on the computer, so I think about what to do with myself.  I've been for a 'walk', said 'no' to the computer, and it's too early (by far) to go to sleep.  I think about going to see Matt, but don't know how his family will take to the new me.  I'm not exactly welcome over there normally.  Now

So instead, I call Jimmy.  He should be home by now, but he isn't.  He's out with Sarah again.  Rats. 

I mean:  'Good for him!', but it doesn't help me at all.  Back to the computer.  I try out a game I'd gotten for Christmas, that (for some reason) I haven't gotten to play yet.  It fills my time nicely until supper.  Okay, not all that nicely, but it does fill it. 

Supper is difficult.  Not just because I have to eat in my room, but because it's the start of Mom's conditioning. 

I walk in slowly and get a plate, get my supper and leave.  I don't say anything to her, or even to Dad.  I don't want to stress her out too much right now.  My being careful doesn't keep her from crying as I leave, but... 

I find myself twitching alittle, and things are bugging me:  Things like odd smells that I haven't catalogued yet.  Half of the smells are coming from me.  I'd so like to go in and take a shower, but...  Mom would freak out more.  I think about the pond out back, but I've got no way to dry off. 

So...  I end up using my computer to catch the news from around the world. 

Wow. 

This MORFS thing (scr*w that.  I'm going to show loyalty to my doctor)  This CHANGE virus has really... changed things. 

Turns out that a lot of people have died over this:  Either through the virus itself, or through helpful neighbors panicking.  Or even helpful Police panicking.  *sigh* 

I kow God's not responsible for this:  I know it.  But He does tend to use our plans for His greater good.  Kinda wish I knew what the end plan was, though. 

Catching the disease didn't grant me any new knowledge about it, unfortunately. 

So I just lay there stinking and try to get to sleep. 

Oh, yeah.  This has been such a good day. 

 

Chapter NINETEEN

March 9, 2009

My day starts with Mom (not surprisingly) not being able to take me around to the school to see about the process of reenrollment.  So Dad has to take a day away from w*rk to take me to school for it.  I have to ride in the bed, because the truck he drives has a ridiculously small cab up front, and no back seat to speak of, just a small storage space.  The wind is seriously whipping my 'dress' (a sheet cut to fit with a hole for my neck) about. 

I'm a small person - but my tail is almost a small person, too (seriously, I think it weighs as much as I do).  It insists on being in the way whenever it can, too.  My Dad's a good driver, but he still needs to see the road. 

So eventually we get to the school, with Dad holding the folder that he's gotten from the hospital.  The papers are to explain what has happened to me, and prove that I am who I say I am, and that I have no known communicable diseases.  Basically, it's a doctor's note allowing me back in school. 

We get there while classes are still going on - thus ensuring that few, if any people would be about to have a conniption about me.  There are a few people in the halls, and they stare, of course.  At least no one runs screaming. 

That's something, right? 

We try to enter the office as calmly and non-threateningly as possible.  The secretary shrieks anyways, throwing the papers she'd held into the air like you see in the movies.  She then promptly faints.  So much for no one screaming.  *sigh* 

"Didn't you call to tell them we'd be coming in?" 

"Yeah, honey.  Our appointment's in ten minutes." 

"Did you mention my CHANGE?" 

Before he can asnwer, the door to the principal's office jerks open, revealing the principal himself.  He sees Mrs. Shumacher on the floor and starts to shout, looking around for the disturbance.  His eyes lock on mine and he starts.  He controls it, though, and waves us over. 

"Mr. Robinson, how are you doing?  Is this Eric?"  He doesn't seem to want to touch either of us as he ushers us into his office (I later found out he's a germaphobe).  After the thing with the secretary, I'm not expecting to be treated with any form of courtesy. 

"What can I do for you, Jake?  I imagine that this has disrupted things with your family enough.  We need to concentrate on getting things back to normal.  Or as normal as things can get, yes?"  He's almost smiling:  This is nothing like  the principal I've known.  He's friendly, engaging, open...  Seriously!?!  Who is this and where's the principal? 

I guess my Dad is well enough connected that I'm not going to just be thrown out.  Nice to know. 

"We're here to see about getting Eric back in school.  What do we need to do for that to happen?" 

I can see Principal Erin's face go all plastic, and I know that things have gone as well as they ever will.  'This is where the downhill slide happens.'  He spends a few minutes looking around the office for papers that he probably has sitting on his desk this whole time.  After the 'search', he opens one of his drawers, and exclaims, "Aha!"  I was wrong:  Not on the desk, but in the desk.  Silly me. 

"He'll need a form from his - I'm sorry - her?" a nod from my Dad, "physicians, declaring her to be recovered.  We will also need some form of documentation stating that she's safe."  My Dad's face must not match my own's confusion, for Principal Erin does a hasty, "I mean, the other parents are going to want to know definitively that their children won't catch whatever it is that... Eric... has.  Nothing was meant towards her, I swear!  Not everyone's going to be as progressive and forward thinking as we are.  I'm just trying to keep the school out of trouble, here." 

My Dad sits back and nods slowly.  "I can see that, and it even makes a little bit of sense.  How do you see this coming out best?  I am not willing, or constitutionally able, to just slink off and enroll her in a private school.  No matter the cost, she will be attending this school to finish her high school education."  He swivels to look at me.  "And she will be going to college, somewhere." 

I shrink away from his gaze and *nod*, swallowing slowly.  I never get to see this side of my Dad.  I am very glad that I never get to see it.  There's an old movie that he watches from time to time:  True Genius?  The quote sort of goes:  It goes from God, to Larry(?), to me. 

I've just heard the word go from God's lips to my Dad's ears, and nothing was going to divert what was said from happening. 

Principal Erin nods, and takes out a list from the stack of papers he has in front of him and shows it to my Dad.  "These are the courses and credits that she'll need to complete to stay on track.  If she can get these out of the way - maybe via summer school? - then she'll be cleared to start again at the beginning of the next year, in August.  The other papers are forms to be filled out by lawyers and doctors, but they're important, too.  We don't want to leave any wiggle room for her detractors.  If you can get this done by the end of July, this shouldn't be any problem whatever." 

He smiles, and my Dad follows suit.  "You know it will never be that easy, don't you?" 

"Yes, but this will also give us time to get 'just this one last form' finished by the start of school." 

They stand up and shake hands.  I shoot to my feet, a little confused:  'Is this it?'  It seems to be, as my Dad goes out the door, leaving me to follow.  I walk by Mrs. Shumacher as she's getting helped to her feet by the guidance counselor.  She shoots me a look of tempered venom, but doesn't say anything until we're out the door.  My ears pick up her screeching to the principal about 'that filthy animal' being there.  I can't hear what he says in return, as we're outside, and I have to jump in the back again. 

When we get home, Dad shows me the list of things I have to w*rk on.  I start checking online about how to get those classes and where I can go to take them.  The joint vocational school offers most of them, and I can take the others online, so I guess I'm all set. 

I'll have to take two classes online while school is in session, and I can take three classes at the JVS to round it out, and get ahead a little.  I pitch it to my Dad and he signs off on it, saying that the first bit will be getting my room together. 

I also think it might be a good idea to get to know my body a bit better, too.  Maybe look into some self defense classes, or something.  He's not so sure about it but can see where it might be necessary, so he signs off on that, too. 

He then tells me that he and Mom have decided that I need a new name.  "We were thinking Amy would w*rk fine.  It's what we would have called you if you'd been a girl.  Okay:  The name's been floating around since Derek was born, but it was still on the list when you were born.  What do you think?" 

I sit there for a moment, and nod.  Then a thought struck me.  "How about Amelia?" 

He thinks about it, "Okay, but why Amelia?" 

I smile a little, wryly.  "Amelia Earhart." 

He shakes his head, "As long as you don't end up like she did, I have no problem with it.  I'll get your Mother on board.  You should get some sleep, tomorrow will happen before you know it." 

I hug him and he leaves.  I think he's smiling, but I can't really tell. 

I'm trying to relax in front of the computer when there's a knock on the door down below.  I go to the window to see who it is, and shriek:  "Jimmy!"  I leap at him from the second floor of the shop. 

I don't think he was expecting to get tackle-glomped by a squirrel girl.  Matt must have told him about my new form, because he doesn't try to get me off of him or panic (much).  He just lays there and lets me hug him.  I finally let him up after a minute or so. 

"How've you been?  You got a girlfriend!  What's she like?  I like how she seems nice.  I know you think she's pretty, but how is she?  How's the Band been?"  I ask the last softly, worried and hopeful at the same time.  It's weird:  I want the Band to be able to carry on without me, but I also want my loss to be a serious hit.  Crazy, neh?

"I couldn't stay away after what Matt told me.  I was just trying to get enough time together to make it worthwhile."  He stops, "Are you naked?"

I laugh, "The fur covers everything, so you won't see much, perv!  I'll let you in, gimme a minit."  I climb back in through the window I'd just jumped out of, then run down to unlock the door. 

I find him sneezing.  "You got a cold?  It would serve you right standing out here in the cold."  He comes inside and stumps up the stairs.  He sneezes a few more times, and I hand him some shop wipes. 

It's decidedly hard to have a conversation with someone who's having trouble breathing, you know?  It's almost ten minutes before we think that he might be allergic to me.  He moves to sit next to an open window, and within a few minutes, his sneezing stops.  We both look at each other and laugh. 

We then talk for about three hours, until he's too tired to stay awake.  I offer him a place to sleep, but he chooses to sack out in his car, instead.  Given the sudden allergies, I guess I don't mind. 

In the running for Best.  Day.  Ever.  But I'll settle for best day in a while. 

 

Chapter TWENTY

March 11, 2009

It was a few days before the materials for the treehouse arrived.  Mom's still freaking out over me, but she's getting a little better.  I try to tell myself that it's only been four days, and that things are getting better.  Which they are. 

But:  It's also been fourteen years.  I'd been her son for fourteen years, and now I can't even go near her.  No hugs, no talks about school or whatever, no anything.  As well as other things have been going, this is a big hole in my life. 

I'm spending a lot of time on the internet trying to find a martial art that I can do.  There was an anime about an art practiced by women in chains (Matt).  Some of the commentaries listed some of the martial arts in it, so I have a launching point. 

I remember from talks with Jimmy (about comic books this time) a villain called Taskmaster.  I wonder what it would be like to have 'photographic reflexes'.  Basically, anything he could see someone do, his body instantly knew how to do.  That would be helpful to have, I think. 

I'm finding a lot of Chinese styles, and a few japanese styles.  Savate - a french style -  looks promising.  So I spend a few hours (days/weeks) downloading videos of all these martial arts and going through them.  It takes a lot longer than I'd thought it would, and even doing things wrong is draining.  (or maybe because I'm doing them wrong)  I end up trying them all, and find which ones I can do with patagia. 

Please don't think that I'm suddenly becoming a superb martial artist, able to copy anything found in the movies.  I am using movies and other sources for that while trying to build a martial science that will w*rk for me.  My progress is spotty, as I have no one to spar with, no teacher, and limited time with all the studying I'm supposed to be doing. 

I'm putting off doing the online classes until my room is done, that way I'll have a set room in which to do it, and no distractions from when I start.  I don't think Dad's happy about it, but I figure this will drive him to get it done faster. 

Towards that end, the materials start arriving three days after I submitted the plans to him, and then we go to w*rk.  Most of my jobs are hauling stuff around:  Both the fetching to,  and carrying things away. 

I did try to do some cutting, but the saw made me scream.  Not the fear response, actual pain whenever it was turned on.  I can't wear earplugs because my ears are too big, but I did tape them down.  That allows me to be in the yard while he does the cutting. 

He's drilled holes all the way down the tree trunk, lots of holes so he can run steel bars (did you know that rebar comes in different sizes?) down through the trunk of the tree, and quite a few yards into the ground.  This will allow him to anchor the floors to something static, not a growing tree that will cause things to buckle and shift.  He's killing part of the tree, but... 

I'm as much help as he'll let me be, and I'm out there whenever he's w*rking on it.  He has to go to w*rk during the weekdays, but weekends are busy at our house.  Matt and Jimmy come by to help out once in a while, when they aren't busy. 

March 22, 2009

I'm flaking out for a few hours this evening and Matt and Jimmy walk up.  "Hey, freak!  Shake your tail!"  Matt.  (Jimmy wouldn't be this abrasive) 

"What are you two doing, harassing innocent young girls?  On a Sunday, too!"  I try to look shocked, but my face isn't as responsive as I'd like.  Trying not to laugh takes a little concentration, too. 

"If you're free, we'd like to take a walk with you:  It's been a while since the weather's been nice enough to allow it." 

That was certainly true.  The snow had hit us hard over the winter, and just last week it released it's grip on us.  They were getting more used to my 'nudity', though Mom has indeed made me clothes and undergarments that fit.  It's very weird to have to climb into my underwear, and then adjust it for a few minutes every time I moved wrong.  There can't be a side band because... patagia.  So everything's held there by my bustiness (B-cups, I think:  But when you didn't used to have anything...).  This actually w*rks fairly well, I just have to be careful with my motions.  There's even a sort of 'clasp' for around my tail. 

I soon learned what actions would cause a wardrobe malfunction and what I could get away with.  Martial arts practice, btw, requires a reset of my underwear.  I just remove it, usually:  Things go faster that way, and it's not like I have an audience for my practices. 

I haven't seen too many others, but I know that my lingerie is fairly unique.  It has to be, because... patagia. 

So I get dressed (everyone's being such a prude about this:  It's not like you can see anything!) and go hiking with the two of them. 

It's such a blast roaming around with them!  I used to go along with them occasionally, but wasn't in the best of shapes for hiking.  Now, Matt's the one holding us up.  I don't mind it, but I do take the opportunity to pick back a little. 

"Do you need another rest, Matt?  That log looks comfortable.  Let me just check it to see if it's too wet." 

"Did we have to bring her?" 

Jimmy just smiles.  He sits down on the log I picked, allowing Matt to do likewise. 

I'm too busy scampering about to notice much else.  I try to keep busy now:  I've dicovered that the hospital had been pumping me full of anti-depressants during my stay.  I'm just about weaned off of them, but waking up and being bothered by things that I clearly remember not bothering me was a drag for a week or so.  Staying busy has helped a lot. 

"Why no w*rk today?  I thought your Dad was all fired up to get it done?  Matt and I were all ready to help."  Jimmy says that last with a smile.  Matt just groans and stretches his legs. 

"Dad was apparently getting concerned about my not starting the online portion of my studies, so he hired one of his crews to come out and finish things up for us.  They'll be here tomorrow and w*rk until it gets done," I smiled, "Putting off my studies seems to have w*rked." 

"You were serious about that?"  I *nod*  "D*mn!  That takes b*lls.  I thought you'd turned yours in."  Matt's smile is a little vicious.  I guess he's taking my picking a little personal. 

"I just traded up.  You should look into it, they should give you something, even if yours are defective." 

Jimmy's trying not to chuckle, but he's losing ground rapidly.  Matt and I trade shots for a few minutes, then he gets up to keep walking.  We're making a grand circuit of someone's property.  My dad got permission for my brothers and I before I was even born.  It's come in handy, these past few weeks. 

Dad's outside looking for us when we get back (okay:  He was probably only looking for me), all so he can tell me about some more changes to the schedule.  Apparently, they're going to rush things as much as possible - so I can finally get started on my classes, I guess.  (  :)  ) 

I find out later that he's using a little of the money I'd gotten from the medical 'study' I'd been a part of.  Well, that's what it's for, right?  Helping me adjust to my new condition? 

Speaking of which, Dad's decided to use my whole plan of three rooms.  I'll have enough room to entertain everyone I could imagine inviting over (three people aren't all that hard to fit in a room.  I could fairly safely double that number and still have room for my tail. 

Dad's being mock serious about not having boys over without a chaperone, and absolutely adamant about them not staying overnight.  He's offering my old room for those purposes should it come up.  Matt and Jimmy just look at each other and smile. 

In other news:  I find out more definitively that I'm not the only one in the country to go through MORFS at this time.  People who can absolutely not be traced to me have caught it, too.  I've been a little worried about it being attributed to me - really:  I'd feared the torch and pitchfork crews - but this made it easier.  I won't be the only one when I get back to school. 

Across the nation, people have been very spastic about all this MORFS thing.  Some communities actually burned a few of them at the stake.  Others have tried to move on as if nothing's changed.  I can't imagine being in a situation where my parents would turn me in to be tortured and killed like that. 

It really steams me that some of these groups are twisting God's Word to not only allow it, but to actually call for these atrocities.  How can anyone read the Word and get that out of it?  It boggles my mind and wearies my soul. 

'Thank you, Lord.  Thank you for your protection and all the assistance you've given me.  I hope to be worthy of your service.  Please be with those who need you, and help those who are using your name for evil to understand what you wish of them.  Amen.' 

It takes them almost three whole days to get the shell up, and two more with the inside wiring and such.  Dad had wanted to do a whole 'big reveal' thing like on TV, but I've been out there every night and I knew what was going on.  I've even slept there a few nights.  It made it feel more like my room that way. 

I get all new things for my room: rugs, cushions, some furniture for normal people, and some 'fur'niture for me.  (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)  My bed is hanging from four thick chains, and tends to sway a little when I'm in it.  I love it, I love my whole room.

I finally get to meet Sarah!  Official meet, I mean.  I knew her from Band and such, but never really talked to her.  Now she's taking my Jimmy from me, and I need to make sure that he's going to be taken care of right. 

Wow.  That does not sound like how I'd meant it.  Oh, well. 

She comes over with Jimmy and Matt, walking out from the back woods like they always do.  They seem to be friendly already:  Jimmy's got his arm around her (duh) and Matt's joking with the two of them.  There's a sort of loose easyness around friends that's hard to emulate.  I don't know why they'd try, anyways. 

I let them get to the top of the hill before I 'jump' them.  Matt and Jimmy are ready for it, but Sarah's not used to (relatively) giant furry things zooming at her.  She "Eep!!"'s well, and clutches Jimmy's arm tightly. 

I'm trying to be cute, so i hold my head at an angle and just look at her until she calms down.  It doesn't take her too long before she stops panicking and looks at me.  "You're so cute!" was not what I'd expected from her.  I'll take it, though. 

I've been finding myself trying to be cute, lately.  I'm not sure why, but it makes me happy when I feel I can pull it off.  Okay:  Part of it is because it's not easy for me to do.  I only have a few tools in my box (not that box, sicko) to even try with.  Hairstyle gets ruined by the wind when I 'fly'.  My 'clothes' are basically a sheet that has designs on it and some minimal tailoring around my neckhole.  Expressions and demeanor are about it for now. 

Sarah really likes Jimmy, and she remembers me from before.  I'm surprised to find out she'd been trying to get to know about me while I was Eric, and she says that she's been interested in Jimmy from before (eighth grade, if you'll believe it), but was too shy to do anything about it until Todd opened his mouth - though Matt's help was invaluable.  Huh.  Something to thank Todd for.  More weirdness.

She comes over some days after school and I help her with whatever I can.  I'm not saying she's not bright, just that there are some things that she doesn't take to right away, like math and chemistry.  She wants to be a vet, so she's going to need those. 

I do have to say that things are a lot easier without having to deal with all the kids in school - not better, just easier.  I'm getting everything done that I need to do and preparing myself to go to the JVC for my other classes.  I'm ready for the summer to begin.

*

NEWS

"-aiting for the Supreme Court to make a ruling about the status of these 'MORFS Survivors'.  They maintain they they're waiting for the medical experts to decide what causes it, and if anything can be done to prevent it.  Doctors across the world are coming together in a rare example of selflessness.  Openly sharing most of what they're discovering.  Remember, it was English doct-" 

"-ombing of several clinics and hospitals which had been studying the disease.  They are not organized in the strictest sense, only dedicated to eradicating the virus before it can-" 

"-overnment won't act, then we will!  It's a disease, or a virus, or who knows?  We can cure it.  You don't cure an individual, you cure a Nation, and you do it by eliminating all people who have it.  Actions need to be taken before it spreads, or else-" 

"-iscal realities are looming.  President Obama promises action, but hasn't delivered anything.  Monies earmarked for other spending are being diverted into research of this catastrophe, with the bulk of it on patient care and survival - a decision which has many people across the Nation up in arms." 

 

Chapter TWENTY-ONE

June 15, 2009

Today's the first test of how things might be when the official school year starts.  The bus picks me up in front of the house at 7:30, and there are only a few of us on it.  The bus driver's clearly been warned about me, as she doesn't even blink.  She doesn't look at me much at all, I notice.  The other three people on the bus just gawk at me.  I wonder about it as we go on our way.

The county has many different buses for all the various jobs they might need to do.  The big yellow bus was a classic, and carried twenty four seats.  There were buses with half that many seats, and a few with half of that.  You'd think that with only four of us on the bus that we'd have the smallest bus, maybe even the van. 

I'd climbed aboard the biggest yellow bus they have.  I kind of have to wonder what they're planning if I decide to ride the bus instead of walk to school when the year starts. 

The other students are spread out a bit, with two of them close enough to each other to have a conversation, but also far enough apart to have privacy if they want it.  I try to find an empty seat (sarcasm) and end up about a third of the way back on the driver's side.  I can see her looking at me in the mirror as she drives.  She doesn't seem to like me.  She doesn't say anything, just glares at me as if I'm a troublemaker. 

One of the other students gets my attention by trying to talk to me.  She has an unusual hair color (light green), and her eyes are green like emeralds.  Not 'like emeralds', where they were a green that remind someone of emeralds, but they're like emeralds.  I don't know if it's actually gemstones in her head, or just something that looks like it, but it's weird and cool. 

She wants a conversation, I guess, but the bus driver shouts that everyone needs to stay in their seats, so she'll have to wait until we get there to say whatever she's going to say to me. 

It's the creepiest bus ride I can remember.  The first fifteen minutes is spent watching the bus driver glare at me.  I get tired of it about halfway there, so I start staring back - every so often doing that 'chitter' thing with my teeth.  She stops glaring at me pretty quickly.  I try not to smile at my success, but it's hard. 

The bus stops at the school, and we disembark.  There are people standing around gawking at me, but I'm trying to concentrate on where I'm supposed to go.  The girl from the bus catches up to me, now that we have the ability to have a conversation. 

"You caught it, too?  Sorry, of course you did.  I'm sorry.  I just get so nervous when I'm around people that my mouth doesn't seem to stop.  I'm Julia, and I caught this a few weeks ago.  It took me almost a week to get over it.  Huh.  'Over it'.  It changed everything about...  Oh!  I'm sorry, I'm sorry!  I just keep talking when I get nervous and everyone makes me nervous now.  My boyfriend doesn't want to talk to me anymore and -"

I step in and hug her as she starts to cry.  I'll have to thank Calvin for teaching me this: Sometimes, you just have to hug it out.  She cries on my shoulder for a moment, my tail is wrapped around us despite the heat.  She settles down after a moment, and starts *giggling*.

"I must say I've never been hugged by a tail, before!"

I *chuckle* too, "It's just one of the services I offer."  I'm wondering at myself.  Here I stand - wrapped up around a cute girl - and I feel nothing but friendship.  I'd had fantasies about stuff like this (not the tail, mind you) when I was Eric, but...  Everything changes when everything CHANGEs, you know?  (I know, I know.  It's MORFS.  My doctor was calling it CHANGE, so out of respect for him, I still do too.  Sometimes, anyways) 

"Hi.  I'm Amy.  I don't suppose you know where we're supposed to go?" I ask, looking about confusedly. 

*nod*  "I'm sort of a regular, here.  I'm not dumb, just a little slower about learning than most people.  At least, that's what Dad tells me.  You need to go through the main doors and get your schedule.  First day, yeah?"  *nod*  "They'll have a map for you when you get the schedule.  It's not that big a campus, so you should be fine.  I hope to see you at lunch, but I really do have to run.  My first class is on the other side.  See ya!" 

I wave her off, then go inside to see what my schedule will actually be like.  After freaking out a little, they tell me the old good news/bad news dealie.  I'm all set to take three classes here, and they're all closely scheduled.  So closely scheduled (and poorly scheduled, might I add), that I will have to run (or scamper.  There are some decent winds here, too:  Maybe I'll glide?) across the campus between each class and miss lunch.  But I can get right out at twelve-thirty. 

If I want to walk. 

All the way home. 

And the cafeteria closes at noon, so I will be starving after my last class.  I'm planning on packing my lunch, but still.  Why even have a class over the lunch period??!? 

As I find out, the teacher for that class has no other classes, and likes to eat at home with his wife.  I can't really blame him for that, no matter what it does to my schedule.  If I didn't need the AP Bio, I would drop it, and just go home with the noon bus.  As it stands, however, I'll have to wait for the end of the school day bus, and come home that way. 

However, before I get there I'll have to deal with the other two classes; the first of which is German.  I'm fairly good with languages, and I'm thinking that it might be nice to have a few more under my belt when I get to college.  German is also a much better choice than the usual French/Spanish offerings at the highschool.  I learn that German is very different from the 'romance' languages.  It's very cool, but I might actually have to w*rk for this grade.

Which I like a lot.  School's normally only interesting when the teacher takes a real interest in the subject.  Or when people are trying to stuff you into a locker.  Sometimes interesting is good.  And sometimes... I have vivid memories of it sucking, too.  Though - as a side note promoting obesity - if you're fat enough, bullies can't fit you in a locker. 

No matter how hard they try. 

Or how many times they try. 

Moving on. 

German is also a class that only has one other student in it.  He doesn't seem to mind that I'm CHANGEd at all.  He seems... overly medicated, though.  He might not even have noticed.  At least it isn't something hallucinogenic. 

The other class(es) is(are) a computer class.  Technically, it's two or three classes, depending on how far you go in them.  I fully expect to do two, if not three by the time summer is over.  The class is all done by IM, so no one has to even talk to anyone else.  The teacher is expressing terror/hatred towards me, so I guess this is why he set the class up this way. 

AP Biology is hard, I will admit.  It's a college course, for one.  Secondly, it's normally taken over a whole semester, and here we are doing it in two thirds the time for another.  I like science, and I have a personal interest in the subject.  The teacher's great, but hard.  His view is that the class isn't a makeup science credit, and therefore, everyone who's here knows what they're in for.  And from the start he let us have it.  We were warned going in that missing days was not recommended, because time was in a crunch as we stood. 

It's by far the most interesting class I'm taking, and will need a lot of my free time.  There are going to be field trips, and dissections, and field studies (literally, studying the field behind the school and what's in it.  It's still cool) where available. 

The first day his eyes lit right up and he asked me to allow the other students (both of them) to study me, as I am a genuine new area of study.  "I'm offering you bonus points, and help with the test at the end, in the form of study guides to study before, not during: That would be cheating." 

Some quick thinking, and:  "Okay:  As long as the touching is minimal, and limited in scope.  I have no desire to have my delicate bits prodded by panting boys, thank you." 

The class seems to last forever.  I shouldn't be complaining, as I need this class to stay on my schedule, but...  The creepiest thing to happen to me in that class (actually, the creepiest I can remember, all told) is when he brings out a stuffed squirrel for comparison. 

"Now we'll get to see how your limbs compare with hers."  I swear I thought he was going to name the little corpse.  I'd have been right out the door and gone.  But that was about the end of the creepiness.  'Thank you, Lord'. But, we did get to study some of the differences between my limbs and a regular squirrel.  BTW, my tail length isn't all that uncommon for squirrels (comparatively).  Nice to know that I'm not completely freakish. 

I usually spend the time until I go home eating my lunch, then trying out the martial arts I'd downloaded (katas and tai-chi) in a clearing in the forest across the road.  Gotta do something with my free time. 

  *Time Lapse  *

Due to Biology's demands on my time, I only got two computer classes finished.  Darn.  But, I did pass all my classes, which means that I now have a college class credit completed before I'm even a Junior in highschool.  Sweet.

I didn't get to see much of my friends that summer:  I was busy for the most part, and when I was free, they had Band camp.  I miss Band camp.  We...  *sigh* They all gather at a college a half-hour away for almost a week to learn all the marching routines for the season, as well as the songs.  There are some practices before hand, but Band camp is where it all comes together. 

I try not to focus on the things I would be missing, and instead focus on the paperw*rk for the upcoming school year.  I have all of the classes done, and the paperw*rk for those completed and sent in.  I have all of my medical squared away, and those have been accepted, too.  My classes are selected, and my schedule is set.  All I need is the last bit of trouble to be flung at me so I can squash it, and things will be good. 

The waiting sucks. 

Sarah and Jimmy are finally back from camp, and Matt's returned from Italy (family vacation).  I can get some socializing back in my schedule at last.  Julia's cool, but she's a year behind me, and lives on the other side of town. 

So we hang out and have some fun while they can - just one day, but sometimes that's all you get.  Then everyone's lives gets busy again and we split off.  I'll see them in school, God willing. 

On that front, people at church are... human.  Most of them have no real problem with me, just the initial shock of my being there.  Mom is still not as responsive as I'd have liked, but she lets me in the house for meals, and doesn't cringe (much) when I speak.  There are a few at church who are at least inquisitive, if not supportive of my condition.  My Sunday school teacher's one of those (told you he was wise). 

There were also a few who didn't think I belonged there, and threatened to leave the church over me, over my inclusion.  They stated that this was an indictment from God, and that he had obviously cast me out; and that the church as a whole should do likewise. 

The pastor very kindly but firmly told them that if they'd be more comfortable somewhere else, that maybe they should go.  They didn't like that, even though a few of them left.  I felt bad, but didn't have a different response that left me in church. 

And I need the church.  There are aspects of female biology that mess with our brains.  Periodically, I become... emotional.  Emotional is a good word for it.  I'll go from 'walking on thin ice' angry to 'how could you do such a thing' bawling, sometimes right after another. 

I've also started to notice boys.  Part of that is biology, part of that is psychology. 

I am attracted to the opposite sex.  When I was Eric, I liked girls just fine.  I liked the way they looked, the way they smelled, I liked talking with them and mostly I liked watching them move.  Girls don't move like boys do, even ultra confident ones.  I'm not simply talking sway and bounce here - though that's certainly on the list - but in every way different:  Purpose; priority; whatever.  Girls simply move differently.  Go look for yourself, I'll wait. 

You back?  Okay. 

As a girl, I like watching boys.  I like watching them playing, I like hearing them speak, I like being included in a joke, I like being around them.  I also like the way some of them smell.  There's something in my head that latches onto the way a few of them smell and won't let it go. 

Maybe it's because I was injured and in the hospital on the good drugs.  Maybe it just wasn't my time yet, and my body decided that now was the time.  I don't know which it was, or if it was something else entirely, but... 

Parts of me that were only words in a textbook suddenly came alive and clamored for attention.  I got chills and hot flashes at the same time.  I couldn't think, I could barely breathe.  I simply had to go to him and allow him to do whatever he wanted to do to me.  Thankfully, people were nice enough (or scared enough) to keep that from happening. 

I understand from Biology class (see!  It's worth it to take science classes) that pheromones don't w*rk properly on 'pure' humans.  Something in the brain chemistry doesn't connect right when the signals are sent.  Some people claim this as a sign of evolution, and that if there were a God, He wouldn't have included the areas of the brain that used to be connected in the first place. 

I say that it proves that there is a God.  There isn't any reason for the areas to be turned off if Someone didn't think we'd have a problem with it.  Sort of looking out for us.  How unusual. 

Anyways, everyone still produces the stuff, and it seems that the area in my brain receives the signals just fine.  So I get all 'hot and bothered' by odd people.  I just know that I'm producing a 'I'm ready!  Come take me!' pheromone of my own.  I'm just glad that no one seems to pick up on it. 

However, I still needed a way to handle it.

So I turned to God.  I spent an awful lot of time in prayer.  There are people out there who say that prayer doesn't w*rk, and that if I'd spent as much time in meditation as I did (and still do) in prayer, then things would have been at least as good as they were.  That God isn't anything but a delusion. 

I could answer flippantly:  Say that God may be a crutch, but if you've got some broken legs...  I could quote chapter and verse about things being created and how if you're not saved you will go to a very real and eternal hell.  I could even try to argue with you about evolution, and how whacked it is.  But all I'm going to say is that prayer w*rks for me.  I still have to be careful, but... 

(Seriously, though.  If you want to try to argue evolution with me, I'll be happy to kick your butt.  :) )

There isn't any particular boy I'm interested in.  I don't let myself get close enough to any of them to get interested in them.  I also don't know if any of them are interested in me.  I have things to do and chasing boys isn't on the list.  I don't really want to know if they hate me, or are scared of me or what.  They don't approach me, and that's fine.  Juuust fine.

My family started to get nervous when August started rolling through and there was no response from the school board.  No response.  I didn't get the all clear, either.  We went and bought all the things I was going to need for school anyways, and hoped for the best. 

It turns out that they were locked in a legal struggle all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The matter at hand was 'What is the legal status of these MORFS victims?'.  The battle was longer than anyone was thinking it would be.  And both sides had some fairly vehement arguments going for them.  I didn't know it at the time, but I was actually a centerpiece of the case.  (one of a dozen, or so; but I still was) 

The opposition was using me (among others) as an argument for stripping the victims of full 'human' status, saying that I was obviously more animal than human.  The 'defense' was all for my inclusion as a 'person of interest', or whatever you call it.  They pointed out aspects of my life and my school records, showing not only a capacity for learning, but that I excelled at it.  I'd had very few disciplinary problems while enrolled, the most d*mning being my problems with the bus drivers.

The first bus driver I only had to suffer the once.  She didn't show up to take us home, it was a new guy.  He seemed nice enough and we didn't have any trouble the whole way home.  The next day, there was another guy; and he hated me.  Everything he could do to make my life difficult (not that there was much, mind you - he's only a bus driver) he did. 

He'd stop in front of puddles if he could, or 'forget' to stop in time, and make me run twenty or thirty feet to get on the bus.  I learned to not speak at all, lest he write me up for discipline problems.  I even got a note for 'glaring'.  I was resting, my eyes were closed.  Julia happened to catch it on video, me sleeping while the bus driver ranted at me.  When she showed the video to the 'principal' (I don't know if that's what he was, but he was in charge while we were there) the driver got canned immediately.  So George (the nice bus driver that we all liked) got to drive us home again.

The next one wasn't bad, but she was allergic to my fur.  George again on the way home.  The next one was a drug user.  Seriously, I could smell it on her.  She crashed her (our) bus into three other parked buses on the second day.  We got to take the van home that day.  It was nice, even though Marty (the other girl on the bus) didn't like being forced to be so close to me.  New bus the next day.  New driver, too (natch). 

I freaked the poor man out:  He had a breakdown just before we went home.  George again.  They tried to get George to just drive our bus, but he lived too far away to make it in the mornings.  We finally got lucky in Christine, a middle aged housewife who was driving for a little extra money so she could divorce her useless husband.  She lasted until the last week when it was discovered that she was having an affair with the only boy on our bus, Jared. 

She made an impassioned speech before the superintendant of the schools, saying that she knew she was wrong, but she just needed some human contact and her worthless husband was refusing her needs.  She was SO VERY FIRED the next day, and we had the last run of drivers. 

They weren't good for one reason or another.  Two of them tried to get either Julia or me into some... after-school activities.  Ugh.  The last made a sort of abortive attempt to attack me.  It was almost pitiful.  He swung a nightstick at me, but it was like he was swinging in slow motion, and I was able to dodge out of the way.  Julia caught the whole thing on her phone/camera.  She said she 'just didn't like the way he was looking at you'.  Thank you, Julia. 

George drove us the last day, and we were very happy. 

Where was I?  Oh, yeah!  The trial.  The supreme court, the 'no higher court in the land, suck it up and deal', ruled in favor of the MORFS survivors almost unanimously.  So, I get to go to school at the end of August. 

Yay? 

Derek and Stephanie came out to visit at the end of August.  I have to hand it to Steffi (oh, just call me Steffi, would ya please?), she didn't hesitate at all:  Just walked right over and gave me a hug.  A long hug, mind you.  While clinched, she told me about her brother's just having gone through MORFS, and all the trouble she was going through.  Her (now) sister was not dealing with her CHANGEs (sorry:  I told you I was gonna do this, and I'm a stubborn little girl, now) well.  Her Mum (English is a cool language, I think everyone in America should learn it :) ) did NOT handle it well, and her Dad basically threw her sister out. 

Last report had Jessica (used to be James) trying to find a way to America to live with Steffi, but officials on both coasts were leery of allowing it - probably fearing the start of a new flash flood of immigration.  Jessica is staying at the airport in London (Heathrow?  I should Google it.  Hang on.  Yeah, Heathrow) until this all gets sorted out, and there were protests and riots, and even an assault staged. 

They say that England is safer than America, and I might have believed them, except for stories like this.  This was enthusiastically reported on some internet news sites, with the reporters telling people to 'come on down if you've nothing better planned for the night'.  I guess they think that less guns (no guns, in this case) means less violence.  Uh-huh. 

Still nothing from Billy.  Hope to hear from him, soon, though. 

  *End Time Lapse  *

NEWS

"-ust like when segregation was ended, riots have broken out in some areas of the country:  But some areas seem to be coping just fine.  Mr. Rockwell - principa-" 

" '-an't tell who's gotten it until thay develop symptoms.  Mortality rates are dropping steadily, but people want to know - need to know - if they've contracted it.  The Presi- '  That was one of the calmer protesters from outside of the White House, earlier thi-" 

"-umped the Medical Community.  There are literally dozens of variants out there, causing an array of mutations.  The differences also stem from their triggers:  The exact combination of events which causes the mutations to start.  Throwing money at it hasn't seemed to-" 

"-ourning a fallen hero.  Matthew Stephens was just fifteen, but he helped his city to come to its senses during the 'Hell Times' of the riots last week.  He'd donned a cape and fought to keep his neighborhood safe, only to fall victim to one of the local gangs.  Police are uncertain how the gang members got ahold of military grade weaponry, but the teenaged 'Rhino' didn't stand a-" 

 

Chapter TWENTY-TWO

August 25, 2009

The first day of school.  How cool.  (sorry)  I'm still used to getting up early, so I'm up in time for Band, which I can't do anymore.  My head shape, most especially my mouth, means that I'm not able to get a good sound out of my trumpet (and believe me, I've tried a lot).  I can't blow with any regularity, so flute's out (even if I want to take the time to relearn everything and then try out for Band again, which I don't).  All the woodwinds would interfere with my (slightly) buckteeth, and percussion isn't worth trying out for. 

I know, I know.  There are a good many drummers out there who'll argue with me, and say that 'drums are the best!' or some other such drivel.  I made music.  To go from that to just making rhythm?  Pass. 

Besides, my claws interfere with piano playing, and that's where all good percussionists go when they want to make music.  (heh.  Burn!) 

So, I get to start my day with Spanish.  Yay.  After spending the summer learning German, coming back to school just to learn how Spanish people mispronounce their words (I am going to be in so much trouble for that) is sort of a let down. 

Seriously.  Spanish is like French, but easier.  In Spanish, all letters always make the same sound.  Always.  You look at it and you know how to say it.  There are no modifiers to keep track of, the words are always the same.  People still mess it up, but I don't (and neither should you) blame the language for that. 

In French, there are all sorts of modifiers.  There are accent marks for the letters, and where a word is in the sentence can have a huge effect on what it means.  No to mention that technically, French is a 'dead' language.  The French people are death on trying to add new words to the language.  They've had to, recently - what with all the new technology and all.  But if you go back even twenty years, you see that the word for 'fan' in French was 'machine'.  Try to say that with a French accent and you'll likely hit it.  Of course, that was also the word for a dozen other machines, but that's French for you.

Anyways, I show up to watch the Band practice.  I can't be up there by the field, because... reasons, but I can hear them playing.  I'm standing there watching the Band walk into the school, waiting for Jimmy.  He's walking and talking with Sarah, so I let them pass.  I get some looks from the other Band members, but they don't know who I was.  Some of them even walk a little farther away from me before going into the school, the equivalent of crossing the street when they see me.  Nice. 

Some Band boys walk over to me to see what's going on, and I recognize Todd at the lead.  He doesn't seem to be freaked out about me, nor does he seem angry.  This is odd, because I wasn't expecting tolerance from him.  I wasn't expecting him to be here seeing as how he's the one put me in the hospital in the first place. 

They get closer and look at me closely, "See, I told you it wasn't a mask!" Jason (percussion) crowed.  He leans in and tries to touch me, like it's okay because I'm not normal.  

I slap his hand, "Excuse me?" 

They just laugh and circle around me.  I'm quickly surrounded by them, and they keep laughing.  Worse, one of them sets me off, and I want to know who it is so I can curl up with him.  Stupid pheromones are getting worse.  I try to get past them, but Phil (trombone) stops me, "Where you going, little one?"  Crap!  It's him

I just stare up at him as he waits.  I feel someone grabbing my tail, but it doesn't matter right then.  Not until he runs his hand up the bottom of it and pokes me gently.  I don't think he was thinking about what he was doing, and I really don't think he was expecting to touch what he touched.  All I know is that I'm suddenly on fire inside, and my teeth start chittering. 

This freaks them out and they back off of me and give me some room. It takes me a moment to get the stupid pheromones out of my lungs, and then I jump over all of them and glide onto the school building.  I'm still gooey inside - and shaking outside - but I'm starting to get clear.  

They just stand there and stare at me so I climb (scurry) down the wall, and go inside.  Now that I'm in the Band corridor, I realize my mistake.  I'm now a stranger, and unwanted.  I try to get past them as quickly as I can, but there are a lot of people in the Band.  Two or three of them seem to be allergic to me, too.  I'm setting off a few sneezing sprees on my way past, so I hug my arms around me and try to worm through fastfastfast

Everything slows down again, just like it does when I fly.  I find holes between people and squirm through in no time:  People barely have time to register that I'm there before I'm not.  Things even out once I'm out of the Band corridor, and I continue to the office after pausing to catch my breath. 

Mrs. Shumacher isn't any happier to see me this time than she was last time.  She's glaring at me from the moment I walk in the door.  It's an effort of will to not chitter at her to get her to back off, but I manage.  She has my paperw*rk ready, I can see it on the counter, but she makes me wait for almost ten full minutes before she 'notices' me. 

"What do you need, Eric?" she snarls at me.  Maybe she was having a bad day before I came in, or maybe I just set her off. 

"I just need my schedule, if you please, Ma'am."  No point in not being polite.  Besides, I read a book where politeness was used as an insult.  The more obnoxious you were, the more exacting their politeness became.  I didn't think of it before, but I feel the need to use it now. 

She stares at me, wondering if I'm messing with her, then gives me my papers.  She turns back to her 'w*rk' and leaves me to go away on my own.  "Thank you very kindly, Ma'am.  It's certain that you do a fine job.  God bless you." 

I leave while she's still trying to uncover what I'm about.  That's the best thing about politeness:  They can't call you on it easily without looking like an idiotic jerk.  I make my way towards the language rooms while glancing at my schedule.  I stop dead in my tracks, and turn towards the guidance counselor's room.  He bids me enter when I knock, so I go on in. 

"What's this?" I demand, showing my schedule to him.  He looks at it briefly, then gets my file out of the cabinet.  He glances through it for a few minutes, then sits back and smiles at me. 

"Your schedule has been adjusted to allow you to better focus on your recent... changes.  It was determined that your suggested course load was... overambitious.  This new schedule should allow for more normal growth within our system.  You should hurry to your classes, though.  Here.  I'll give you a note to explain  you tardiness."  He starts scribbling on a notepad, "Here you go!  Best hurry along, then."

"I signed up for those classes for a reason, and I'm more than ready for them.  Did you even look at my file before you assigned me to those classes?  I've already passed three of them in my normal coursew*rk.  I'm taking spanish as my 'take it easy' class.  I need those others to graduate on schedule.  What are you trying to do to me?"

He's been getting redder and redder as I spoke, until he blows up.  "Ms. Robinson!  Those classes have been carefully chosen for you as the ones most needed for you!  I'll not have you stand here and insult me, or belittle the hard w*rk I've had to do for students just like you!  You will go from this office this instant, and get to class.  I'll be talking to Mr. Erin about this presently!" 

I turn and leave, but not to go to my Spanish class.  I turn right, and head right back to the office.  Mrs. Shumacher is on the phone with somebody and cackling with glee.  I hear Mr. Donaldson's (guidance counselor) voice on the other end of the line, and know it's about me.  I walk up to the counter and say, loudly, "I need to see Principal Erin, please." 

She looks stunned, like she didn't expect me to be there.  She splutters for a moment, then, "Young... lady, you need to be in class right now.  Go now and I'll see if I can find time for him to see you sometime this week.  Go on, now!  Shoo!"  She makes the 'shooing' motions with her hands, as if that will make me leave. 

"I'm here now, he's here now.  Why not now?"  I can hear him in his office, and he's just reading something.  I try not to get too frustrated with it all; it's just the next hurdle they're throwing at me.  I'd expected it earlier, but not this end around dealie. 

She starts to get up and I chitter at her loudly.  Her face loses all color, and she falls back heavily into her chair as Mr. Erin's door opens and he rushes through to see what the commotion is.

"What is everyone doing here!  Ms. Robinson?  Why are you here?  Shouldn't you be in class?"  Mrs. Shumacher's nodding and trying to get her voice w*rking to jump on me.  I just hand the principal my schedule.  He takes it and glances at it.  He then retreats to his office and pulls a file from his desk.  Comparing my schedule with a paper pulled from the file, he comes back out, slowly.  "Why has her schedule been changed?  Mrs. Shumacher?  Could you get Kevin in here, please?" 

The secretary stands there for a few seconds, then picks up her phone and presses the buttons to call the guidance office.  As Principal Erin turns to talk to me, I hear Mr. Donaldson answer the phone, and Mrs. Shumacher quietly tell him that it would be best if he'd leave the school for a while. 

"We'll try to get this sorted out, here.  You take this," the schedule I was supposed to have, "and come back after Spanish.  I'll have you a note written for the other classes, okay?"

I nod and take the paper.  I see Mr. Donaldson in the hall as I leave for the language lab.  He glares at me as he quickly leaves out the hallway door.  I continue on my way to Spanish, wondering what I've done to make things so difficult for everybody. 

*

Kevin Donaldson - Guidance Counselor

I told her it wouldn't work, that resting her hopes on this wouldn't be wise.  She pinned it all on this... pathetic... excuse of an attack.  What was she thinking?  That Mr. Robinson would just let it go?  Even if Eric was going to, her father wouldn't. 

So now I'm slipping out the back like a criminal while the whole thing falls on my head. 

What was I thinking?  How do I get out of this one?  Bad enough that that... thing is going to be in school with innocent students, now she'll be in the Honors classes - corrupting the cream of the student body.  Who knows what sort of diseases she'll bring in there? 

Sure, the doctors all signed off on it, saying that it wasn't a danger to others:  All that takes is money.  And Jacob Robinson must have a lot of it. 

I wouldn't have thought Mr. Erin would be susceptable to bribery, though. 

I think it's time for a consultation with Roger.  Let's see if he's got an answer to my problems. 

*

Principal Erin

"What do you mean, 'He's out?'?  He's supposed to be here taking care of the students!"  I realize that I'm shouting, but...  "Does he have his cell?" 

"I'll try it,"  Mrs. Shumacher seems nervous:  I should really try to dial this back a little.  *deep breath* 

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Shumacher.  I shouldn't take it out on you:  You're not the one responsible.  If Kevin doesn't call back by lunch, let me know.  Let me know when he does call in.  I'll be in my office trying to get this sorted out." 

For all that I've said it, sorting it out is easy.  I simply draft three notes for her teachers, and then three more for the teachers she won't be having. 

What was he thinking?  Who would benefit from this?  What's the end game?  I have a slew of questions and no concrete answers. 

Notes drafted, I spend the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out a strategy. 

*

Mrs. Shumacher

It was very smart for Kevin to leave his cell phone in his office - I can hear it ringing - but it would be nice to talk to him and plan the next moves.  How was I to know the beast would get the principal involved?  And why would he have a copy of her schedule in his office? 

It just doesn't make sense:  Why would this beast have such protection?  It's almost enough to make me believe what my grandmother used to say about God and the devil.  Eric surely must have some form of demonic aid, to be able to get Mr. Erin on it's side. 

Maybe we are entering into that... final days, thingee.  I should get gram's old Bible out and see what it has to say about this. 

If only it wasn't so long... 

*

Spanish is, as advertised, almost a waste of time.  The most I get from the first class is that some people see everything as the coolest thing ever.  I wish I could be back with my Honored brethren (I swear, I'm not all that stuck up.  It's more of knowing who I'm around, than being around the General populace).  Ah, well.  At least it won't be hard to keep up.  (*sigh*  you know?  I've never thought of myself as stuck up before.  Open eyes) 

After stopping by the office for the notes - and hearing Mr. Erin ripping into someone on the phone - I go on to AP Chemistry.  It's sort of nice to be among some people I sort of relate to.  My problems have just started, though.  There are assigned lab partners. 

My partner is another girl, a senior.  She doesn't care for me at all.  Not because of my CHANGE, but necause I'm a Junior.  I'm the only Junior here.  I would have thought that there would have been at least one other Junior here, but no.  Allison isn't stupid enough to try and ruin anything for me, lest it splash on her, too.  So, we get along well enough after the rocky start. 

Moving on to lunch.  Lunch is a weird sort of blessing.  I'd brought my lunch with me, so I just needed a quiet place to eat it.  I find a table where I can see the room and be out of the way.  I'm halfway through my salad (I find that it's better for me to go vegetarian.  I can handle meat, but I smell bad for a few days after I do.  Might be something to do with the fats, but I don't know.  Even if I'm the only one that notices, I do notice) when Todd and company decide to come over and grace me with their presence. 

I kind of wish I'd thought to sit on the end - so they couldn't surround me again - but that's what they do.  I curl my tail around my body and flex it out a bit to keep Phil from leaning in too far.  I try to finish my lunch quickly, but they're talking to me, and being rude is classified as a very bad thing.  Almost as bad as letting them know that I used to be Eric. 

I'm trying to subtly lean away from Phil, and Todd takes that as a signal that I'd rather to be with him.  He leans way in to say something to me, but I can't listen to him, I'm too busy breathing him. 

It's unfair that two people I respond to sexually are such jerks.  Not that I want to run out now and get pregnant with someone - okay, part of me really wants to go off with either or both of these two and see what happens - but I need a distraction before I fold completely. 

I curl my face under my tail and start to smell me, hoping that it will put an end to this nonsense, or at least slow it down.  I get a good whiff of how turned on I am, but I get less of them, too.  I grab my lunch and stuff it in my cheeks (thank you, cheek pouches), then run for the girls room.  I eat my lunch slowly in there and hope that they'll give up before too long. 

Sarah comes in to save me.  I mean:  She's just coming in to use the restroom when she sees me, but she saves me.  I've been standing there shifting from one foot to the other for maybe fifteen minutes, fretting about my welcome when I leave. 

"Sarah!  Are they still out there?" 

I don't think she expected to be ambushed by a squirrel-girl.  She 'Eeps!' and falls back against the door with her hand on her chest, just like in the movies.  It takes her a moment to get her heart back in order, then:  "Amy?  What the h*ll!  You scared me half to death!" 

"I'm so sorry!  Are you okay?"  *nod*  "Are they still out there?" 

"Wha-?  Who?" 

"Todd and crew.  Are they still waiting for me?"  She expresses confusion, so I start to explain about my trouble with pheromones and the jerks whom my body thinks are compatable with me.  That takes a few minutes, especialy with her interrupting me with questions like:  "Really?", "How does that even w*rk?", and "Do you think he's cute?" 

"NO!  I don't think he's cute!  I think he's a jerk!  He's the reason I went to the hospital in the first place!  I don't even know how he's still in school!" 

"Wha-?  What do you mean: 'He's the reason you were in the hospital?!'"  So, I tell her that story.  I seem to have a lot of stories.  Hurmm. 

She's shocked.  Shocked is a good word.  Followed closely by angry.  Very angry.  I'm sort of wrapped around her at this point:  I needed some comfort with all the weirdness going on at that time. 

Sarah just sort of stands up, dumping me on the ground in a furry heap.  I make it to my feet just as she tears open the door and leaves.  I actually sit there for a moment - wondering what I'd done to make her so upset - when I hear her shouting at Todd.  I stiffen and sit there for yet another moment until I hear her accuse them of assaulting me in the bathroom. 

I run out there just as Todd gets up angrily, "I would NEVER hurt a woman, Brown!  Where do you get off accusing me of -" 

"Last year, in January!  The three of you almost caved Eric's skull in with a sink?!  Remember now?!  She was put in the hospital and came out like this?!"  I didn't even know she knew I was there until she gestures towards me.  "Now you're accosting her and pawing at her?!  What's next?!  Dragging her off behind the -" 

I grab her and pull her back with my tail, I don't know what else to do I'm so scared.  So I hug her tightly, burying my face in her neck and just shiver.  Everything stops.  They all are just staring at me, watching as I clutch ahold of Sarah, waiting for... I don't know what.  Something to break, I guess. 

After a year or so, I get it under control.  I whisper to Sarah, "They don't know about the pheromones, and I'd rather they didn't.  I don't hold their actions last year against them.  They were just surprised by a monster in the bathroom."  She stiffens, but I go on, "They're jerks, but that's just who they are, they shouldn't be punished for my weakness-" 

Sarah shakes me, then squeezes me tight.  "You are not weak, they are in the wrong here.  Attacking a student is NOT excusable, neither is pawing at you.  Being a 'jerk' isn't acceptable either!  If jerks aren't corrected they just get bigger!  People need to be better than they are!  You can't just let this go, D*MMIT!  They-" 

I'm sort of gasping at this point.  She's been holding me tighter and tighter as she went on, and now she's squeezing me so tight I can't breathe.  She lets go and I collapse, sucking in sweet, sweet air in great gulps. 

"I'm so sorry!  Are you alright?" Sarah. 

"Man!  I just reacted!  I didn't mean-  I'm sorry!" Todd. 

"I just panicked!  Todd went off before I could stop - I'm so sorry!" Jason. 

"I saw you in the bathroom and I didn't know what to do, I went for help!  I'm sorry!" Phil. 

Everyone's crowding around me, and the pheromones are eating through my panic.  Quickly.  Sarah notices me stroking her suggestively, and then she panics. 

"Everybody!  Give her some room!"  People shoot back from her, and my mind clears enough to notice what I'm doing.  Which I stop.  Immediately.  I am so glad people can't see me blush, I would probably die from mortification.  I think that's what the word actually means, anyways.  Something to do with death? 

I really need to get a handle on this, or put it away, or something.  'This is nuts, I can't go around in this state and expect things to be cool.'  I start praying right there, while some teacher comes in and directs traffic.  Todd and the others are escorted away, and Sarah gets me to standing.  She's about to ask me something when the teacher/traffic cop comes over to us. 

"You girls okay?"  Nods from both of us, "What happened?  Did those boys cause a problem?" 

I shake my head, and Sarah nods, then glares at me.  "They attacked her back in January, and she had to be taken to the hospital," I'm shrinking.  "She still has some issues with them that she'll need to talk to someone about." 

"Will you two be okay for now, or should you go see the nurse?"  We both shake our heads, and he sends us on our way. 

"Thank you, Sarah." 

"You're welcome, but I don't swing that way," she smiles at me to take the sting out of it.  "Besides, if I go to Jimmy smelling like you, he'll swell up and be useless for an hour." 

I grin and nod.  "I gotta do something about this.  I can't keep getting w*rked up over idiots like Todd.  There's gotta be a way, right?"  I look at her like she has the answers. 

"I don't know, but God doesn't give us anything we can't handle, you know?" 

I nod again, "I just wish he didn't trust me to handle so much."  We grin.  "Besides, he said he wouldn't give us anything we couldn't handle with His help.  There's got to be an answer for this." 

She slows, "You might consider going on the pill, just until you figure it out.  It'd be like a safety net, you know?" 

I think about it, and nod slowly.  It's not that I think it's a sin to be on the pill, or anything.  I'm not planning on having any sex until I'm married - and who knows who I'll marry - this will just remove a lot of the fear I have about being around guys.  I have to worry about things that I never had to worry about before.  

I find myself at my English class, so I hug her and walk in. 

*

Todd

Amy used to be Eric?  That furry goddess came from the butterball?  Wow. 

Good thing Phil got Mr. Erin and they stopped me from smashing his head in. 

Guess I owe Phil, now.  Not that I'm going to let him have Amy.  Nope.  That furry tail belongs to me

*

English is another chance to be back with my people.  I shouldn't think of it that way, but I can't help myself.  There are people here I have to worry about, but not in the same way as out there.  People here are less likely to try to hurt me, or burn me at the stake.  Here, they'll just snub me.  I'm sort of used to being snubbed. 

Walking through the door, I walk up to the teacher to hand her my note - and she's staring at me like I'm a special effect in a B movie.  I'm standing there, holding the note, while she just stares at me.  I try to clear my throat, but the sound isn't impressive.  I then make a big mistake:  I chitter at her. 

She shrieks and jumps away from me.  I can smell immediately that she's had an accident and I feel awful.  She starts trying to get away from me, clawing at the door (the open door, mind you) until she finally makes her escape.  I slowly (precisely) set the note on her desk and take a seat. 

Students are staring at me with a wide range of expressions:  Ranging from hatred to fear to amusement and even arousal.  What the heck? 

I try to concentrate on the door, just waiting for trouble to fall on me.  It doesn't take long.  People are whispering about me, and moving around to either get closer or farther away from me.  Someone's moved behind me, so I curl my tail around me to keep it away from him.  Sometimes boys can be disgusting.  It's not entirely his fault, but I really don't want to put up with his horniness. 

The P.A. calls me down to the office, and tells me to take the back way.  That's odd, but okay.  I can do that.  I go down there to face the music, which isn't pretty.  Mrs. Shumacher's gloating, like she finally has an excuse to get me kicked out.  Again: What the heck? 

Principal Erin motions me into his office, and tells me to sit down.  I try to find a comfortable position, but my tail makes it impossible.  The chair's too shallow to sit forward far enough to accomodate the tail, but too narrow to curl it around me.  I didn't have this problem last time I was in here, so what the heck? 

I've been sayng that a lot, lately.  I need to stop.  'Please help me to stop this nonsense, I know it's wrong, and I should stop.  Thank you, Amen.'  Popcorn prayer finished, I stand behind the chair.  He looks at me for a moment, then the light bulb goes off.  He simply switches chairs with me.  Easy as pie. 

I'm shocked.  I'm sure he can see the confusion, 'cause he gestures again that I should take his chair.  I shake it off, thank him, and pay attention (after sitting down). 

"You were terrorizing Mrs. Paul.  Why?" 

"I didn't mean to!  She was just staring at me and wouldn't take the note you gave me.  I tried clearing my throat, but it didn't w*rk."  Sheepishly, "So I chittered at her.  She... didn't take it well.  I'm sorry." 

I hang my head down.  He just stares at me.  I peek at him, but he's just staring at me.  Just like Mrs. Paul.  I feel the urge to chitter rising, but smack it down ruthlessly.  Silly thing to get in trouble over, and I'd better not do it here. 

"You what?  'Chittered'?  What the h*ll is that?"  He's looking stunned and angry.  It's so cute, I can't help but smile.  I do manage to stop the chuckle, though. 

I chitter at him, just so he can see what I'm talking about.  He rocks back a second and just stares at me again.  Then a chuckle burbles up in him.  It hits him and escapes his lips, like a little hissing snake.  Then its friends join in.  In a moment, he's collapsed in his chair just laughing. 

I can't help it, I start laughing, too.  Every time he starts to get it under control, I chitter again, and set him off (again).  It must have lasted five minutes, us just losing it.  I'm sure Mrs. Shumacher was convinced I was doing some weird sorcery or something, because there was no yelling, or crying, or anything like that.  Just laughter. 

I finally stop so we can breathe again, and he waves me off weakly.  I then see him resuming his authority like a mantle. 

Have you ever seen that?  Someone's just bopping along, and then suddenly - BAM!  Instant authority figure!  I don't know if I'd ever seen it before, but I'm certainly seeing it now. 

"Be that as it may, I don't think you can go back to her class, Amy.  What are we going to do about this?" 

I shrug, "I don't know.  I know I shouldn't have done it - I knew it at the time but I couldn't help myself.  I was going to take AP English next semester.  Now, I don't know how I'll manage that." 

"AP English as a Junior?  You think I'll just sign off on that, huh?"  He's smiling, but shaking his head, too.  I pull my master list out of my notebook and hand it over.  He looks at it and whistles. 

"I was trying to get as many credits out of the way while I'm still here, you know?  That way I'll be better set for college.  If I can get it all done, that is." 

He thinks about that for a moment, then:  "We'll see what we can do about that.  I trust you are willing to apologize to Mrs. Paul?" I nod, "I'll tell her, you just stand outside the door so she can see you, and we'll see if she can handle that." 

So that's what we do.  He marches me up to Mrs. Paul's room and has me standing outside while he goes in to talk to her.  She's looking angry - both at his interruption and my antics in the classroom - until she looks over at me.  She doesn't shriek this time - not quite - but she certainly rocks back.  Everyone can see she's scared of me.  I feel really small, right now. 

Principal Erin comes out of her room and leads me away.  "I'll have a talk with Mr. Singer.  He's the teacher for the AP class.  Let's see what he thinks about this."  And away we go again. 

Mr. Singer teaches the AP class this period.  Principal Erin knocks on the door and motions for the teacher to come out and see us.  We wait a moment for him to clear us a minute, and Mr. Erin smiles at him when he came out. 

"Jim, have you met Amy here?  Amy Robinson has recently come down with that new epidemic, like young Simon Michaels, but a bit more... drastic.  She's having a little trouble with one of her teachers and needs someone to prepare her for your class next semester.  I was wondering if you could be troubled?" 

Mr. Singer had been looking at me since he came out, and I can tell he's considering what to do with me.  "I suppose we could try and see what she can do, if you wish,"  He has the most 'snooty' voice and mannerisms I've ever seen,  "She can stay, then.  I presume that she was in English this period before now?  Then this will w*rk out all right.  She can leave her other book here, and I'll bring her up to speed.  Would that be right, Principal Erin?  Splendid!  Right then, in you go." 

I stand there for a moment, then enter the classroom.  I'm going to learn English from an Englishman.  Joy. 

For some reason, people are looking at me again.  I was planning on slinking off into the corner, but Mr. Singer bids me stay up front while he introduces me. 

"This is Amy Robinson, and she'll be learning with us here.  Please do try to make her feel welcome.  Right then, Ms. Robinson.  Take a seat, and pay attention, because I hate to have to repeat myself." 

He then takes off teaching us things about the English language and its literature.  I am enjoying the class immensely, but having real trouble keeping up.  When the bell rings, it surprises me:  It takes most of us by surprise.  I shoot out of my seat and stand there, ready for the attack.  The attack that - naturally - isn't coming.  People are staring at me like I'm a freak (which I am, but not this kind) and I don't like it. 

"Oh, I feel sheepish."  I gather my books and leave the room as quickly as I can.  Which turns out to be pretty fast:  I get out of the room before anyone gets out of their chairs.  After I leave the room, I remember to start breathing again, and everything slams back into motion. 

I stand there dazed for a minute or so, while people swarm past me on their way to class.  When I return to myself, I go towards my last class, Trigonometry.  (which is right across the hall, I find) 

For trig, there's the old 'good news/bad news' thing going on.  The teacher doesn't seem to care that I was CHANGEd, but he is allergic to me.  So I take a seat by the door, and he stands by his air purifier (he used to smoke, I hear) instead of moving about the room as he ordinarily does.  No one in this classroom 'sets me off' other than Phil, but there are a surprising number of students who thought I'd attacked poor Mrs. Paul.  Then Jason strolls in late, and hands Mr. Miller a note.  Yay.  Outnumbered again. 

Mr. Miller's keeping an eye on me, because there are a few people in the class who have an interest in me - hatred or whatever.  It's nice to feel protected:  And he does stop a few people from 'death glaring' at me. 

But that also means that Mr. Miller's keeping an eye on me, so I can't wool-gather at all.  There's one student who is allergic to me, necessitating that he move up by the teacher and his 'zone of safety'.  He doesn't seem to mind, so... that one's just a win?  Yay? 

Jason and Phil are both in this class (ugh) and - thanks to the seat shuffle - were sitting next to me (ughugh).  Every time the AC turns on, there's a wash of pheromones wafting over me - keeping me from concentrating due to either getting aroused, or my fear of becoming aroused.  I imagine that this will happen when the heaters kick on, too.  Great. (blargh) 

They (Jason and Phil) are nice about it, though.  One good thing about my earlier meltdown is that they're giving me space, and just trying to be nice to me.  Which means that I get in trouble with Mr. Miller for 'enciting the boys to distraction'.  Which means that my desk was moved farther away from them so everyone could concentrate.  Yay! 

I realize that everyone's looking at me.  Also, I realize  that I may have blurted that last part out loud.  So I not-blush while moving my desk closer to the door.  After a moment, everyone turns back to the teacher, and we get underway.  At least the class isn't hard.  Other than the troubles I've already mentioned, that is. 

Class ends and I'm out the door in a flash, only to smack into the wall and fall down.  Okay, not the wall; just, a wall.  A big, movable wall.  Phil's Dad is huge.  Standing close to seven feet tall (six foot eight inches) and wide (just over three hundred pounds of very little fat), he takes up the doorway.  And I should say, 'Almost fall down.'  His hands reach out and catch me before I get very far. 

He also smells great, though his scent's mixed with someone else's that keeps me from going bibbledy just from being near him.  He even helps me stay up, holding my arms gently but firmly until I find my feet.  Yep, there they are, right at the end of my legs.  I really need to get away from him. 

"Dad!  what are you doing here!"  Phil.  (did I mention they're related?) 

"You forgot your w*rk clothes, so I thought I'd bring them by." 

"Oh, cr*p!"  (okay, I'll be honest.  'Cr*p' wasn't exactly the word he used, here)  "Thanks!  You on your way to w*rk?" 

They continue small talking in the doorway.  I can't bring myself to mind.  Literally.  I'm stuck between two of the nicest smelling people I know, and my body can't possibly be more turned on.  My brain's turned off, mind you, but I'm physically good to go.  One of them finally notices that they're in the way of everyone (nobody says anything because... HUGE) so they move, and sort of drag (okay, carry) me along. 

My tail's become interested in them, wrapping itself about both of them and trying to squeeze us closer together - even rubbing against them both.  Mr. Harrison drops me like I'm on fire, which I nearly am.  He quickly pulls Phil back from me, and they take off.  Quickly.  I just stand there rocking while my brain tries to reboot. 

Critical reboot successful, I quickly make my way to my locker, and stash my luggage (books) before making my way home. 

The walk home is (mostly) uneventful, save for a few idiots shouting obscenities at me as they drive past (and one proposal to do ecchi things.  ugh).  There's a choice I can make to go down a path off the road.  I usually take it, even though it adds another five minutes to my walk.  First: it gets me off the road, and the troubles thereon.  Second: it's one of the nature walks I used to be able to handle (I'm much better at it now).  Third:  it's awfully pretty, any time of year. 

I've noticed that there are times and places where even people who don't believe in God notice something special.  They, of course, say that my attribution of Deity to an otherwise enjoyable phenomenon is a clear sign of my delusion (I find atheists think of themselves as intellectuals).  I simply state that there are places which shouldn't exist, yet do. 

When you're walking (sometimes driving, but usually walking) and you notice that the otherwise heavy cloud cover has a break in it.  And it seems as though there is another room up there, where the sky is blue, and warm sunshine is everywhere.  I think of it as God's room, and the window where he lets us see into it a little. 

This path is another phenomenon like that.  It's sheltered, and never seems to have an abundance of snow or wind or rain.  Yet it's never lacking in any of these, as there is always life and healthy plants there.  The path seems level, though a similar path a few dozen feet away comes out ten feet lower at the end.  It's just remarkable.  (seriously, I just remarked on it) 

Being who I am, I no longer simply walk home:  I glide/run/scamper.  I find I rather like scampering.  If I were allowed into cross country (the sport) I imagine I would do rather well. 

I make it to my room, bypassing the heavy steel door to the outside.  I have a door to my room that locks.  Sweet.  Of course, I had to give up quite a lot to get it, so it's not something to be gained; rather it's something of a compensation for what was lost.  I'll still enjoy it, mind you. 

I have all my school books on my tablet, so I do my homew*rk, then check in with Dad, who's just getting home.  He and Mom are enjoying their prevening (look it up) so I sneak in and get myself a snack.  Mom catches me anyways (she always does).  I hear her stop and stand absolutely still. 

I slow my movements, too; I don't want to startle her.  How funny is that by the way.  If a squirrel were to slowly move up towards you in plain sight - not trying to sneak up on you, just seemingly not wanting to scare you - you'd think it funny, I'd bet.  I slowly wave to her. 

"Hi, Mom.  Just getting a snack before supper," I say calmly.  She just rocks very slowly and nods.  I try not to sigh.  At least the nodding is a sign things are getting better.  I make my way back outside, trying to ignore her quiet sobbing.  I keep hoping that things will get better faster, you know?  Ah, well. 

*

Mom

What is wrong with me?  I can't interact with my own daughter without freezing up?!  I'm making progress - my doctor confirms it - but it's not fast enough.  'Lord?  I know I've been worrying on this a while, but-' 

*

Going to my room, I notice three people coming out of the woods.  Have you ever sort of squinted to get something to come into better focus?  I can do that better, now.  'Nother perk, I guess.  Anyways, I see that it's Matt, Jimmy, and Sarah.  Likely coming to see me.  I scamper (love it) up to my room to put my snack away before jumping out the window and gliding over to them. 

"Hiyahiyahiya!"  I shout as I land in front of them.  The boys look embarassed and turn away slightly while Sarah just grins at me and gives me a hug.  It's a good thing I'm shorter than most other people, because I like hugs. 

'What?' I hear you exclaim.  'What does being short have to do with hugging?' you continue. 

Patagia. 

If I'm taller than my intended target, they cannot wrap their arms around me, and it looks like I'm stealing them away from everyone.  Since I'm shorter, I can get hugged around the head and upper torso.  Easy peasy.  I giggle and wrap my tail around the boys, drawing them into the hug, too. 

Now that they're in, the embarassment fades a little.  Doesn't mean they want to stand here hugging all day, though. 

"Amy, you can let us go, now."  (Matt.  Jimmy's trying not to breathe)  I giggle some more and squeeze everyone a little tighter before letting them go.  "Thank you.  How was your first day back?" 

"It didn't go as bad as I feared, but no where near as good as I hoped.  I'm kicked out of Band, most of the office is actively trying to ruin my academic chances, Spanish is a joke, my Chemistry partner hates me, the only class I have with any of you I get kicked out of, and I'm supernaturally attracted to jerks.  Did I miss anything?  Oh, yeah.  Mom still freaks out about me, but that's nothing new." 

They've stopped walking.  It takes me a moment to realize it, and I turn to see them all staring at me.   Blink.  Blink-blink. 

"What?" 

So then I get hugged again.  I don't mind it - I like hugs - but they're all trying to make me feel better and talking all at the same time, and...  It's good to have friends, I don't know if I could do this without them. 

We eventually get going back towards my room, when we hear a crack of thunder - the low, sonorous rumble echoing through the hills.  We look at each other, then start running for my tree (I wasn't going my fastest, mind you. We're a group, and groups should stay together)  The sky opens up when we're still a hundred yards away or so, dumping buckets over all of us.  I shield Sarah with my tail until we get to the house and everyone gets inside.  My Mom had been laughing at us until I got inside and shook the water off my tail. 

She pales, and walks slowly backwards until she's out of the room.  I feel like crying, it hurts so bad.  Mom can't even joke with us anymore, because of me.  She's getting therapy - from her third doctor - because of me.  Even in a storm, I'm not allowed in the house, because of this d*mn disease. 

I walk outside and jump up into my room, where I can cry openly. 

Someone knocks at my door a few minutes later, but I ignore them.  They give up after a few minutes.  I feel like I should do something, but can't get up the energy to do it.  I'd been a failure as a son, and now I'm a failure as a daughter.  I'm quickly going to lose the few friends I have because I can't even let them through the door, let alone into my life. 

I try to think of one thing that I haven't messed up.  One thing that is good because of me.  I can't come up with anything like that.  Not even one.  Most of the good things in my life are good despite me.  I spend time with my friends and we all have a few laughs, but I don't know what their troubles are, let alone how to help my friends out of them. 

'I'm a sponge.  I just soak up all the support from everyone around me, and I'm not giving anything back.  Why do they come around me if I'm not of any use to them?  What could I possibly offer any of them that's worth even a tenth of what they offer me?' 

I mean, sure:  I help Sarah with her schoolw*rk,  whoop.  Jimmy can do just as good a job as I can, and probably does, for that matter.  I distract Jimmy from his darker thoughts, help him out of his depression.  I used to, anyways.  Now I just make him  sneeze.  Woot.  Matt's got a lot of darkness with him, too.  His family's catholic, but his Dad w*rks for ex mobsters.  He's driven to be successful, and his friends are all smarter than him.  He says that's the way it should be, but...  Sometimes I just have to wonder why they bother with me. 

Especially now.  I've sat out here in my room sulking instead of seeing to my friends' well-being.  'Well, I'm about done with that.'  I get up and dry off a little (most of me was dry by this point) then look out at my parents' house.  The light's on in my old room, and I take that as a sign that it isn't too late. 

As I lean out my window (even though it's storming, the water doesn't get in.  The leaves and branches shield the interior from all that stuff.  I kinda wonder what it'll be like in the winter?) Sarah opens the window to my old room and points at me.  She says something to someone inside, likely Jimmy, then jumps back as I land on the windowsill. 

"Gah!!" 

"Is everyone okay?  I'm sorry I've been a terrible friend to you all.  This rain's pretty bad, but my room is pretty nice, if you guys want to come out," I was rushing to keep talking, trying to prevent them from leaving, or yelling at me.  I get more hugs, even though I'm wet.  I need the hugs, so I don't try to stop them, just let the tail do the w*rk and keep us all together. 

After a while, Jimmy notices that the rain has stopped.  Then he sneezes.  Everyone laughs, and we all adjourn to my room.  My new room, not the old one, which we're in.  I forgot the key (I never carry mine.  I think Dad carries his), so I have to jump in and open it from the inside.  I get this thought of me as a catburglar (squirrelburglar?) and chuckle as the door opens. 

"Something funny?" Matt. 

"Funny how?  Funny like a clown?" Me. 

"Am I here to amuse you?  Is that what I'm doin'?" Jimmy (who's just gotten finished sneezing). 

"What are you guys talking about?" Sarah. 

"Quote wars," I helpfully explain.  Sarah waits for the rest of the explanation. 

And waits some more until Jimmy relents and explains, "Quote wars:  One person starts a quote, be it movie, song, book, what have you.  Everyone jumps in with the next bit of quote, or jumps to another series.  Just keep it going until you're tired of it.  Matt,"  *bow*  "is the undisputed master of quote wars.  Something to do with having absolutely nothing to do with his weeknights." 

"Hey!  I resemble that remark!" Matt... protests?  Whatever. 

"Did you get anything to eat, and do you want to stay for supper?" I ask.  "I could see what Mom is making and ask if you all can stay?" 

They decline, as Matt's grandfather's in town and he (Matt) is taking Jimmy and Sarah with him to supper at a nice restaurant.  I am so very not offended at not being invited.  It's more of a steakhouse, and I'm kinda vegetarian.  I haven't really been out to eat as a squirrel-girl, and this is likely to not be the time or place to try it.  Matt's grandfather is stupid rich, and doesn't like me because my Dad has money but doesn't use it to be snooty.  I don't really like his grandfather, as he's a lecherous lump of garbage. 

Take your pick:  any number of reasons why I seriously don't want to go.  I should probably go out at some point just to see how people react to me.  I'll have to add that to the list. 

But not now. 

They all leave, saying they will see me tomorrow.  I waste a little time on the computer, then go to bed.  I like my new bed.  It's suspended by four thickish chains, and sways gently when you climb in (well, when I climb in.  You should probably not be climbing into my bed.  I'd apologize, but we don't know each other well enough for this, don't you think?  Maybe you don't think; after all, you're climbing into a strange girl's bed.  Creepy.) 

 

Chapter TWENTY-THREE

August 28, 2009

Friday rolls around, and I roll along with it.  School's hard for once, and I love it.  It's kind of nice not knowing that I'm going to simply succeed at academic challenges.  I have to w*rk a lot harder (translation: I have to actually w*rk) but it keeps me off the streets.  I still make time for my friends, and they keep me focused. 

The only 'problem' class I still have is trig.  The real problem, however, comes as I'm leaving trig. 

I don't know what it is that makes these creeps think that my tail is okay for grabbing.  I'm walking along (seriously:  Minding my own business), when I feel a hand grabbing/sliding up towards the base.  I clench up and whirl around to see some jerk senior smirking at me.  I want to plant him into the lockers, but there are teachers present.  (you'd think that would mean something to him, that he wouldn't go molesting girls with teachers present, but...) 

I've also been getting the 'That's a nice piece of tail' comments.  Really?  This is what you come up with?  No wolf whistles or barking?  Guys are pigs. 

Heh.  Might be nice to see a pig CHANGE.  No more hiding for him, everyone knows what he is.  He'd probably love it, the filthy little animal. 

Anyways, he seems like he's expecting me to be okay with it (had he heard something?).  I start by kicking/breaking his knee, and I might have gone farther (martial arts, and quite a bit of strength in the legs:  I'd meant to hurt him, but not break anything), but Todd and crew tripped him down the stairs.  They were going to keep on after him, but there were teachers there (did I mention?). 

They get into trouble for roughhousing, and each got suspended for a week (almost expelled, but he wasn't suposed to fall towards the stairs).  Trevor (the creep) was taken to the hospital for broken bones and a possible concussion.  Which is likely better than what I'd have done.  I saw his smile when I spun around, and I was likely going to claw something off of him.  I don't think I'd have killed him, but it'd have been close. 

But now I owe Todd and crew.  I hate that.  They apologized for the other thing, so I can't just say we're even, or anything like that.  Rrrgh! 

I'm trying to figure out what to do for them when I bump into someone.  Literally.  I should really start paying more attention to traffic when I'm on the move.  Granted, I'm not sure what modifications would have to happen to a car to allow me to drive it, but I should pay better attention anyways. 

I don't quite fall over, and look up as soon as I can stand steady.  And I do mean up.  He reminds me a bit of Mr. Harrison (Phil's Dad) in that he's also wide.  Wide in that naturally fit, healthy male sort of way.  The kind of guy who doesn't brag or complain about all the hard w*rk he does to stay fit, he just goes out and does it.  Am I being a little too flattering of him?  Maybe. 

Actually, let's upgrade that one to 'probably, with signs of whoa yeah!'.  I catch his scent, and it goes down just below my belly and sits there, lighting a fire for warmth.  Seriously, once I get over this guy by having thirty or forty of his babies, I'll need to get this under control. 

Given my reaction to him, he's likely to be a jerk.  My body doesn't care about that, but it's probably true.  My body's silly that way. 

So anyways:  I'm standing there staring at him, and he's standing there staring at me.  I have no idea how long we're doing this, but the hallway's mostly clear by the time he finally runs his thumb over my cheek.  I'm a little shocked that I just stand there and let him do it.  I'm more than a little shocked at my reaction:  I lean into it, and sniff his wrist as it goes by. 

My brain snaps back online and I jerk myself away from him as he smiles at me.  Smiles like that should be outlawed.  I swear my ears are smoking, I'm so embarassed.  I whip around to leave, but he catches my tail and tugs me back to him.  He does it right, too.  Caught it near the tip, not the base. 

Here's a simple tip, fellas.  When you want to hold onto a girl's tail, always start at the end farthest away from her rump (unless you two are already going out, and you're planning something a little more hot and heavy than I want to be planning), this allows contact, and tells her you want her attention without trying to control her, or alter her emotional state. 

So I'm caught, and I allow him to reel me back in - all the while bemoaning my inability to stop either him from doing this, or me for going along with it (my tail, btw, is happily wrapping itself around him, Soo...  Parts of me might have been okay with this).  He pulls me to him slowly and strongly, and I'm shivering and I don't really know why.  I mean:  I know why, sort of.  Just not fully, or something.  Shut up. 

He wraps his arms around me - trapping me - then lifts me up to whisper into my ear, "Are you okay?  I didn't mean to knock you down."  I'm trying to not look at him, afraid to meet his eyes.  That's absolutely no excuse for him to blow into my ear, causing deliciously dangerous shivers to run down my spine (which is seven feet longer for the shivers to travel.  Let me tell you:  There were some convulsions when they got to the tip). 

I notice that we're pressed together - his front to my back - and I'm too panicked(that's the verb I'm picking:  Panicked.  Nothing else, just panic going on here.  Move along) to notice anything else - like Julia coming up to us.  She's coming up from behind, so there's that.  She notices my tail looking like it's his tail, and freaks out a little. 

"Scott!!" (I know his name, now.  Scott's a good name, don't you think?  You can probably trust a Scott to do things right.  He's trustworthy, is Scott.  The sort of man who'll take care of his children.  And I'm way too far gone), "When did you get a tail?!?  It looks sort of squirrelish, doesn't it?  You should meet my friend Amy, she'll go spare just knowing-  Amy?  What are you doing with my brother?" 

She seems angry with me, forgetting that just a moment ago she was going to try and get us hooked up.  Of course, she was likely not going to have us wrapped up together, my tail snaked between his legs then wrapping around us to hold us together.  I don't know why she wasn't expecting it:  It seems natural to me.  Scott (still a lovely name) wasn't complaining or trying to escape either, so... 

Wait... 

"Brother?!?" Me. 

"This is Amy?  The Amy?" Scott. 

"Will you two let go of each other for a minute?!" Julia. 

Reluctantly, my tail slithers back to me - rubbing against Scott's entire length on it's journey.  Scott responds by lowering me down, then sliding his hands up my arms to my shoulders, then firmly pushing me away - his thumbs caressing the fleshy part by my neck the whole time.  It's vaguely obscene how good it feels, and I can't make myself want it to end. 

I wrap my tail around me (for protection) and turn to face her.  I don't try to smile: I don't trust my face to do anything proper.  Scott doesn't seem fazed, he just walks over to her and picks her up in a hug.  She squawks at him for a moment, then gives in and hugs him back.  I think about escaping, but she catches me with a glance, and motions me over to her.  Scott lets her down and she hugs me tight. 

"I'm sorry I overreacted.  Please don't feel bad about this.  He's gone after my friends before and I was worried that he was doing it again.  He's not as bad as he used to be, he-  He wasn't that bad in the first place, it's just- Crap!  I keep doing this!  I get a friend and then she gets freaked out because I can't shut up and you're getting freaked out and I can see that you're not interested I'm just reading things into this and you should totally be into him he's great well not when he's being crude and womanizing but I guess it's be good to be a woman even if you're made an object I think I'm gonna pass out now I can't breathe why can't I breathe?I'mtotallyfreakingoutpleasestopmeI'msorryIcan'thelpitI-I-I..." 

Scott steps in and pulls her into him, softly telling her to breathe slowly and deeply.  I step in, too - offering more hugs.  She gets it under control before she passes out, but it was pretty close for a moment. 

I know she's better when she starts giggling.  I look at her questioningly and she giggles harder.  "I love getting hugged by your tail." 

"Me, too." 

Instantly dying from embarassment, I try to back away from them only to be held there by Scott's big hands.  He wasn't (thankfully?) trying to get a better feel of me, just securely holding me against them.  Julia either doesn't know or doesn't care about it as she winds down from her giggle-fest. 

"Her fur isn't as soft as it looks, is it?" she looks at me quickly, "I don't meant to say that it's not soft.  Please don't think that I'm insulting you about your fur, you have such great fur you know and I just wish that I had fur like yours not really I get enough trouble just looking like I do-" 

I was being squeezed (squoze?) firmly into her by Scott, turning Julia into a sandwich - also squeezing the last bit of panic out of her.  I don't mind so much; I just kind of wish I could be more help than a teddybear (teddy-squirrel invokes too many lingerie images for my comfort).  I wrap my tail around us all and squeeze gently, myself. 

"I'm getting to like my fur just fine, thank you.  You should try to remember to breathe - once in a while - you know?  And it might be helpful for you to wait until someone actually takes offense before you go defensive." 

Scott chuckles warmly, and I have this unreasonable desire to be pressed against his chest so I can feel him laughing.  It must be an awesome feeling.  I am so far gone. 

"Offense and defense.  That's just rich.  Why haven't you introduced me to her before this?" 

"Because you lech after all of my friends as it is!  Perv!" She was giggling, so I figured she wasn't really that angry with him.  I figure she's cured again, so I wiggle a little and put my tail over Scott's face.  He gets the hint (subtle though it was) and lets us go.  Theatrically, I stagger back and strech my back. 

I wasn't thinking that my performance was all that good, but Scott's staring at me, transfixed.  I'm grinning full out until I realize what I've just done, and why he's really staring.  I can feel my face go all plastic and my ears try to light on fire again.  This time I'm more successful in my escape attempt. 

I swear I'm at my locker before I hear them shout after me.  I spend a minute there trying to catch my breath before putting my school things away and going home.  I have a sort of purse that I use to carry things I might need at any time.  It fits on a strap going over my head, and under my tunic to stay out of sight.  That's where I store my tablet, and a few...uhm... other things. 

I hear Julia calling after me, so I wait for her by the doors.  She comes running up to me and holds my hand while she catches her breath.  I wait a moment, then:  "Yeeessss?" 

"Are you okay?  Scott said that you're scared of him, but you don't have to be.  He's alright, you know.  Just my big brother and a pig but not a bad one more like a greedy hog or something and I should really breathe right now."  She does, "Anyways, what are you doing here at this time?  Did you have to stay after for a detention?  No, that's silly because you wouldn't be out of it this soon if you were I'm just going to shut up now and let you answer okay?" 

I wait for a moment to see if she is really done or not.  She is, so:  "I had a little problem getting out of trig, and there are some people who really don't understand 'personal space', you know what I mean?" 

"I don't really have that problem yet.  I'm sure that the guys are all just a little freaked out about my changes due to, you know, MORFS.  My being hyperkinetic probably doesn't help at all I saw that in a movie Scott rented once anyways I'll bet that there are at least a few guys who still wouldn't mind being around these eyes and maybe even look into them like they write in all of those stories that I read I read a lot of different stories like this last one I just got finished reading and I'd tell you but I'm running out of air so I should take a deep breath or two." 

She does, and it seems to help her to settle down.  I think that maybe if she'd count to ten while she was talking - and then pause to take a breath - that might w*rk.  I'm about to tell her this, but that's when Scott comes walking around the corner, and my brain shuts down.  I'm torn between fleeing like any reasonable person would do, and just staring at him walking towards us. 

Seventeenth mental note about this for today:  Figure out some way to keep this from happening!!  End note. 

He looks good walking towards us.  He's not w*rking it or anything, he just walks that way.  He's looking at us funny, and then between the two of us like one of us is supposed to answer him.  Crap!  I just tuned everything out while he was walking.  My ears are going to catch on fire if I keep this up.  Number eighteen fired off. 

"Whuh?"  Brilliant. 

"Scott wants to know if you need or want a ride home because he drives and he's really good at it and we live waaayyy out towards the edge of town so it wouldn't be a problem at all t-"  She stops as I wrap my tail over her mouth.  She's not angry, just looking at me like I'll explain myself eventually. 

Which I do, "You should try to count to ten while you're speaking, and then adjust what you're saying so you can have a more normal pause structure to your sentences.  It might help.  I was about to walk home - it's not too far, just ten minutes or so - so thank you for the offer, but I'm going to have to decline at this time." 

Turns out I also get polite when I'm nervous talking around boys.  When I can finally speak at all, that is.  Huh. 

I give her a hug while she's telling me that I'm crazy for turning down a free ride to my own house, and there was more but I lost track of it while he hugged me.  I'm willing to bet that he doesn't hug all the girls like this:  He picks me up and starts rubbing his cheek against my face.  Maybe he just likes the way I feel.  Ahh, that came out a little more...  I'm gonna just shut up now. 

"Okay." 

What does, 'okay' mean?  'Okay, I'll see you Monday'?  'Okay, you're awesome and I want to share my life with you'?  'Okay, you're stupid but kind of cute and I'm not sure I'd be able to keep my hands off of you anyways'?  They're gone before I remember to breathe again.  Whoosh. 

I step outside and climb to the top of the school to get a better launch height for the start of my trip home.  I still don't know if I'm going to the dance tonight.  I should, it's sort of a tradition with my friends, but I'm so different I might wreck the whole thing. 

I'll just see how I feel tonight and take it from there. 

*

Scott Landers

Wow!  Some of Jules' friends are nice, and all, but...  I wouldn't have thought that fur and a tail would do it for me, either.  I'm going to have to figure out how to get Jules to let me go after Amy. 

She seems funny, she's hot, and her voice?  It's like...  I want to wake up hearing her voice every morning from now on. 

I wouldn't mind going to bed with her, either. 

I wonder if she's going to the dance? 

*

I get home in decent time, glad that I don't have to explain why a boy drove me home.  I finish my homew*rk (what little there is) and go in the house for supper.  It's harder eating vegan - even with peanut butter - so I have to give thanks to my Mom for making it everyday, and not complaining about it. 

Instead of grabbing a plate and escaping, I turn to talk to Dad - because talking to Mom will be counterproductive. 

"Dad, I need to be on birth control." 

"..." 

"..." 

"Dad, I-" 

"I heard you, just give me a minute to get my heart w*rking again.  You need to be on birth control?  How did that happen?  Is there some boy that we don't know about?  Have you been doing any-" 

"NO!!  Dad!  Ew!!  I've just been thinking ab-  STOP LAUGHING!!  This is hard!" 

"Sorry, sweetie, but this is just a little too much for me.  Write out your argument, and I'll go over it with your Mother.  Okay?" 

I nod, give him a hug, then get my food and leave.  I'm a little sensitive and I know it but I don't know why.  I didn't need to shout at him.  I never shout at him.  Why was I shouting at him? 

I'm just finishing up my 'proposal' when I hear a car coming up the drive.  I peek out the window to see Matt coming to pick me up.  I guess that decides whether I'm going or not.  I shout out the window that I'll be right there, then change my 'clothes'.  I have like, five sets of underwear, two of them brown/gray.  I have a white, a black, and a 'nude', too.  Gotta snicker at that one.  I have three sets of 'school clothes' and three 'play clothes'.  I also have a 'formal' sort of thing, but I don't really know why.  All my 'clothes' are the same cut, just different 'sleeve' lengths.  There isn't a whole lot you can do with a tunic. 

As usual, I disdain the door, and just jump out to the car.  Matt's already there, and we make our way to the school.  We're early, but that gives us a chance to relax, and talk with the beakers who'll still talk to me.  They all at least pretend to like Matt, and most of the laughter is genuine and not an attack. 

There's also talk of Todd and crew (I should really give them a name, make it easy on myself), of how they're in danger of being kicked out of Band for missing a game.  It's not likely to happen, but it could.  It's happened before, with some people who had a history of stupidity towards Mr. Simmons (Band director).  I keep looking around for them (nervous habit) and then remind myself that they couldn't be here. 

The dance finally starts, and we all file in.  I feel people playfully playing with my tail, and make it lash about for fun, smacking some people about the face (just boys, I don't want to get any girls mad at me for ruining their makeup) and whining a bit amidst general jocularity.  Everyone splits off and starts to dance, and I make my way to my usual corner to enjoy the music and watch the people having a good time. 

I'm surprised when Matt pulls me out to dance (a 'fast' dance) and even more surprised when I find out I can dance.  Not perfectly, mind you:  But I have balance, and grace, and after I get going, everything goes all weird on me - slowing down until I catch up.  I'm starting to wonder about this.  I mean:  Is it a squirrel power that no one knows about because... squirrels?  It takes three more dances before I'm allowed to go back to the wall.  Not Matt, mind you.  Some of the other guys I used to know from Band and a group of beakerettes wanted to do a thing with all the girls in the center. 

It's a blast! 

This next one's a slow dance, though.  Need a partner, and... no thanks. 

"Amy.  Dance."  And I'm pulled into a moving hug and dragged/carried towards the center of the floor.  My nose catches up with me before my brain even tries to get online.  So...  I dance with Scott. 

It takes a few minutes before I start tracking again.  I know this because we started on a slow song, and I came back to a fast one (still clinging to him, mind you).  I never got to the point of being angry at him.  I should have, but just can't seem to make it there (and don't want to).  I loosen up, and start dancing with him, not just on him. 

*

Various Girls

"Who the hell is that?" 

"You mean, 'What the hell is that?'" 

"I thought you were aiming to be the next 'Landers Landing Pad'?" 

"That bitch is so fucking dead!" 

"What's he even see in her?" 

"It doesn't matter:  She'll-" 

"Back off, Janet!  I'm next!" 

"Not if you can't stop that, you aren't." 

And everyone stops and stares

*

We get in trouble, too.  PDA is frowned upon.  It is especially frowned upon in the middle of the dance floor.  We'd been doing this 'cutting the rug' thing that you see in old movies: Hands and hips swaying, holding one hand and leaning back, twirls and flips... stuff like that.  People cleared a space in the center for us, and we used it all.  He spun me all over the floor, and I always came back for more.  It ended with him throwing me (and me jumping, too) high up into the air of the Gymnasium.

Seriously, I almost got to the ceiling.  I glided around the walls for a moment, then swooped in towards him with everyone cheering.  I tackle-glomped him as I came in and we slid for a yard or three. 

And then I kissed him. 

I didn't take time to try and figure out how with my mouth/face being so different from his.  I certainly didn't stop to think about how I've never done aything like this before, or even how I used to be a guy and that this might possibly be wrong. 

I.  Just.  Kissed.  Him. 

I am actually continuing to kiss him, which is how the chaperones find us.  We get warnings not to do anything like what we'd just done, especially not the kissing.  I think Scott's in shock, too.  We both say, "Yes, Ma'am!" and break apart.  I go back to my corner while he goes to get a drink. 

*

Scott

Wow.  I'm tempted to do a check - make sure I'm not missing anything.  It might be that she literally bowled me over before laying that on me.  I'm surprised I got up that quickly. 

Mrs. Dundee yelled at us for PDA.  That might have helped. 

I'm getting lost and I'm not sure I mind. 

I have never...  Okay, Scott.  You're being stupid.  All those silly girl stories about 'Love at First Sight' just aren't true.  It doesn't matter that you can't not think about her.  Those dreams you had?  Thrown away because you really can't see her going to those concerts, or drinking, or... 

She's the kind of girl who wants a white picket fence, and... maybe one of those porch swings?  I can see us in one of those.  She's a little small, but I don't think it'll matter.  Just curl up next to me as we swing lazi-  What The Fuck!  Who's dream is this, anyways? 

I just need to calm down, get something to drink.  Too bad no one spiked this.  Heh.  How'd she handle getting smashed?  Her dad might just go over the edge for that. 

After he killed me, of course. 

"Two, please."  Her friends are okay, I guess.  They'd have to be to stick with her after her MORFS.  Julia didn't come out too badly.  She even likes the way her hair changed. 

I kinda wonder where the hair came from, though.  Doctor'd said that this was a genetic... mingling, or some such.  What the hell in nature has green fricking hair? 

I'm gonna have to kiss her again.  I simply have to.  How'd we manage that with her head being all strange, though?  I'm trying to think it through, but... 

Her friend, Matt, is talking to her.  Just try to be subtle.  Maybe no one's talking about the- 

*

"What was that!" Matt. 

"What was what?" I'm not giving in that easily. 

"The dance, the flight, the snogging?  You pick!" 

"Well, I have these patagia?" I hold up an arm, strecthing it out, "They let me glide around.  It's not really flying, despite my being half 'flying squirrel'." 

He's going to say something more, but Scott shows up with drinks for both of us.  I don't think he wants to discuss anything about what just happened right as yet.  I know I'm not interested in discussing it ever.  So he just hands me my drink, and we just sort of stand there, drinking slowly and Not.  Ever.  Talking. 

The dance is almost over (thank you, Lord) so all I have to do is wait through a few people coming over to congratulate us on our performance.  Both performances.  My ears might well have been glowing I'm so embarassed, and Scott seems to be in an odd mood himself.  I don't know him that well, but he seems to have taken a hit to his stabilization, or something. 

We're sort of pushed into the last dance.  Neither of us seems to want to be here - all I want to do is listen to the music - but there's all these extra hands making sure we go dance together.  It's a little weird.  I don't know why I didn't expect something like this from the start:  Embarassing moments seem to be my thing

The music starts, and we start dancing with it.  It takes a few moments, but then we start moving together - everything else just fades away.  It's another cheesy movie moment, but that's how it seems.  I forget all about being embarassed, and he forgets everything except to not kiss me.  I kinda want him to, though.  I want to be there when it happens, so I can remember it this time. 

After the dance is over, we walk out together:  His arm around my shoulder, and my tail around his hips.  I do need to be careful about this sort of thing, as when I lift my tail too much the back of my tunic rises with it.  (This would leave me nothing covering my bum.  I really don't want to have that happen to me, ever

We collect Julia, and then make our way to his car.  I don't think it strange at all when he ushers me in to sit in the back.  I find a semi comfortable position (it's easier in most front seats, maybe because of how it's molded?) and wait for them to get in.  As they're closing the doors, I remember Matt. 

"Wait!  Did anyone see Matt?  He drove me here, and I need to make sure he's not going to be looking for-" 

"He's standing right there, waving at us.  Wave back."  Scott waves, with Julia adding a princess wave to boot.  I plaster myself against the window like I'm trying to escape, mouthing 'Help Me!'.  He drops to the ground, laughing.  Then Scott takes me home. 

Julia's trying to fill the car with conversation, but she's the only one talking, except for directions from me on how to get to where I live.  She gives up as we pull into the driveway.  Scott gets out and opens my door for me, then hands me out of his car.  Julia tries to get out, but he motions her back into the car. 

He walks me right up to the door, and is just leaning down to kiss me when I can't stop the giggles anymore.  He pulls back, looking a little hurt, so I quickly point my treehouse room out to him . 

"I 'live' in that tree there, you can see the steps leading up to the door.  I keep it locked, though; I'll have to jump in like usual.  I-" 

My mouth just will not shut up.  I'm just continuing to talk - trying to put off his leaving - but he grabs me and kisses me firmly, but softly.  Insistantly would be another word.  I'm very careful with my claws:  Not because my brain is w*rking, but because I don't want him to stop doing this for anything.  I must have climbed him, because when we come back down, he's holding me at eye level.  I don't want to let go of his mouth. 

I can feel - no, not enough -  I can sense him reacting to me with most of my senses.  It's a frightening jolt of empowerment, and I'm tempted to see just how much power I can draw.  As a good Christian girl, however, I need to stop this. 

The trouble is convincing the rest of me that that's a good idea.  It might be a good idea if he gets on board with the plan, too. 

I'm really not sure what would have happened next.  I am sure that the lights came on.  He drops me like I'm on fire.  It takes a moment to unwrap my tail from around him, though.  This is why my Mother got a glimpse of what had been going on.  I quickly rush a "Bye!" and fly up to my window.  I don't think I needed the patagia to get there, either. 

Scott sort of waves to the house, then gets in his car and leaves.  No fanfare, no honking (btw, if you're outside a girl's house:  DON'T HONK!  Be a little respectful of people in her neighborhood - let alone her parents - and try to not blast soundwaves all across the area.  Honking, loud music, whistles and profanity (believe it or not, there are people who think that this is a 'classy' maneuver) have NO PLACE in trying to get her attention.  You're welcome) he just backs out and leaves. 

Which is nice, I guess.  Maybe I was hoping for a little more.  Then again, the 'little more' I was likely looking for I am no where near being ready for.  I clean up and go to bed.  Strange dreams. 

Strange, hot dreams. 

*

Julia Landers

"So...  That was kind of nice, don't you think?" 

"Which part?  The part where I got us in trouble for PDA or getting caught by her parents kissing?"  Scott doesn't seem all that happy.  Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? 

"I was just meaning the dance in general.  Did you mean to kiss her that first time?  Or the second?  Or did you just kind of 'go with the flow'?  Which seems like kind of an odd phrase.  Where does it even come from, anyways?  Was it from the sailing ships?  I think that would make the most sense, because ships of the time *breath* actually used the breezes which flowed around the ship.  It might also be from floating in the river.  Which do you think it means?" 

"I think I messed something up.  She's not supposed to be this deep.  Not ever.  I messed up, and she has too much of me.  How do I get it back?  Do I want it back?  What's happening to me?" 

I don't think I was supposed to hear him rambling, so I just continue talking about water flowing.  Amy sure is nice, though.  I should thank her for the breathing tip. 

I haven't fainted since. 

 

Chapter TWENTY-FOUR

August 29, 2009

I'd totally forgotten about being interrupted the night before, so I'm surprised when Dad wakes me up by just walking into my room and calling for me to get up.  He has a key, natch.  If my brain had been w*rking, I would have expected him to be here, and might have set an alarm so I could be ready for him.  It wasn't, so I'm not ready. 

I'm also not clothed.  This isn't something that bothers me (as I've stated before, my fur covers all the naughty bits - it covers everything else, too) but I don't think that Dad was ready for it.  He spends a few frenzied moments looking for something - anything - to cover me up with.  Fail. 

See, my Dad's become a paranoid sort of late.  I don't have a couch (I do have a bench:  A very hard bench) - the only place to lay down is my bed, whose chains are rated for about two hundred pounds.  I have a lot of chairs, which are shaped to fit my butt, and my unique needs.  It's not a special order, they had these chairs in the seventies.  Round with a hole in the back.  I don't think thay had tails in mind when they designed them, but it w*rks a treat for me. 

I don't use tablecloths - or anything fabric, really - out here.  They just catch the dust, and I really don't need the extra time spent cleaning.  So there's nothing to use as a makeshift tunic.  Sorry, Dad. 

"Amy Erin Robinson, would you please put some clothes on?" 

I'm still yawning, "Why?"  I can't say as I'm quite tracking, yet. 

"You're naked!  Get some clothes on and sit down at your table, please." 

I do, pulling a school outfit over my head before getting myself some breakfast.  I like a lot of cereals, just not the milk.  I love grape-nuts, btw.  Sweet and crunchy, just how I like it.  (No jokes, please) 

"Would you like some cereal?" 

"No, thank you.  Your Mother says you were with a boy last night.  Would you like to explain?" 

I stop for a minute - cheeks full of cereal - trying to get my brain in gear.  Lying had never really entered my mind: It's not just a sin, it's also denying the people who are most interested in your safety the information they need to make that safety possible.  That doesn't make this any easier, but I'm not starting out trying to lie. 

"His name's Scott, and he's Julia's brother - Do you remember Julia?  I think I mentioned her to you as this girl I met on the bus this summer.  Anyways she has this brother named Scott, who I just met yesterday, I think.  I wasn't thinking of running into him, but he was at the dance.  Probably brought Julia.  So I was at the dance, mostly just listening to the music, when Matt drags me out for a 'fun' dance.  You know?  Like, not a slow dance, but a dance that you dance when you're in a good mood.  That sort of dance.  Some other people wanted to dance with me, too.  Do you think they just wanted to have the whole 'danced with a squirrel-girl' novelty?  Anyways, I was walking back when Scott - who I'd just met, mind you - kind of just grabs me and drags me out to the floor.  Not meanly, or anything.  He just wanted to dance, I think.  Well, I should say 'I thought', because he kissed me!  Not right there, but after I flew around the room.  I kinda tackled him, too.  Maybe that's why he thought it would be a good idea to kiss me.  We got in trouble for it - well, that and the flying thing - so we decided to cool it.  I went to my corner, and he went to get a drink.  He got me a drink, too.  That was kind of nice, don't you think?  Well, they drove me home - after I saw that Matt knew where I was - and that's when Mom saw us kind of kissing." 

Dad's just staring at me: either trying to take it all in, or waiting to see if I was going to start again.  I wasn't planning on it, so:  "How old is he?  How serious is this?  Is this why you want the birth control pills?  What-" 

"Dad!  No!  I'm not planning anything of the sort!  I just met him yesterday!  Sarah suggested that the pills might be nice to have as a safety net, in case these pheromones get the better of me.  I'm not planning on doing anything serious with anyone!  My brain just sort of shuts down and I think it would be nice if I could not have to worry about getting pregnant by some boy just because he smells nice." 

We stare at each other for a moment, me breathing hard, him barely breathing at all.  "Okay, you've got an appointment with the doctor on Monday before lunch.  You'll miss the first half of school." 

I nod, excited for getting to take another step in getting a handle on this thing.  Dad gets up to leave, and I hug him.  He's still not used to it, but I think he likes it. 

Monday. 

*

Dad

It's started:  Hasn't been half a year, and she's already giving me gray hairs.  Birth Control Pills

I understand (intellectually, at least) her reasoning.  I refuse to comprehend all this 'kissing boys' nonsense.  I just got my little girl, and now someone's going to take her away? 

Nope.  This is why man invented guns.  Killing someone quietly while they sleep isn't a deterrent for any others that might come sniffing around. 

I hope she doesn't like this one...

 

Chapter TWENTY-FIVE

August 31, 2009

It's weird waking up on Monday and not getting ready for school.  I'm all sorts of excited, and a little nervous, to be sure.  I had all sorts of crazy dreams, including a full on sex party with everyone I was attracted to (or, at least, liked the smell of).  That was a hard dream to deal with. 

Dad's taking the day off to transport me to the doctor's for my 'checkup'.  I need the visit despite the recent CHANGE and all of the examinations I'd gone through because doctors don't talk to each other.  I'm the subject of at least three different research papers but still need to get prodded some more.  Wonderful. 

I'm not all that concerned about the poking - I'd been through a lot worse when I was CHANGEing, and this would just be more.  Yippee.  I'm not thrilled with it, but... 

I'm snapped out of my delirium by Dad's pickup starting up.  'Wha-?'  I watch as it speeds out of the driveway, and continues towards w*rk.  I'm out of my room and sailing down to the road before I know what I'm doing.  Good thing it's only raining a lot.  I don't know how long I stood down there before I realized that I'm wet and cold. 

I made my way back to my room in a daze.  I think I took a shower, because I wasn't cold any more. 

I see there's a note on my table from my Mother saying that she's going to try to take me to my appointment, and that we should take some precautions to try and curb her psychosis (her words). 

So, an hour later I'm sitting ensconced in her car:  Back seat, wrapped in a blanket and trying not to twitch too much.  She comes out and, after glancing in the back to make sure she won't freak out, drives me to the doctor's office. 

It's nice being around her without her freaking on me.  Even if she has to play the radio loudly to cover any abnormal sounds I might make. 

I'm going to start by saying that I completely understand women not wanting to go to a male gynecologist:  It makes sense that you wouldn't want someone male poking about your intimates.  It's a bit like if your gynecologist were a lesbian. 

Which this one is.  She doesn't act obsessive, and probably touches me less than a normal doctor would have trying to mitigate her arousal.  But I can smell it from her. 

And the fear, naturally.  She's seen my file and had probably been steeling herself for me all morning.  I don't really know why:  Squirrels are cute, not dangerous.  This sort of rampant paranoia is just the sort of thing that would validate my Mother. 

Dr. Lancaster stops in her tracks for a full second before resuming her walk into the examination room.  Immediately, I smell her reactions to me and wait to see what difference it will make. 

"Amy, is it?  What are we here for today?"  Why do doctors use the word 'we' when talking to a patient?  Are they trying to build a bridge, or some other thing?  It's a little creepy when you think about it.  Maybe it's just me.  Oh, well. 

"We're hoping that we can get onto a birth control regimen in the hopes that it will alleviate our responses to pheromones."  Oops.  Normally, I would call this behaviour 'snarky', but since the CHANGE, I'll have to label it as b*tchy.  If I can get past the minor swearing.  I'll let you know. 

"Pheromones don't-  But, of course, you're-"  She gathers herself, "Okay, let's just hop up here and we'll take a look," I don't know if she noticed the snark, or was just playing along.  She pats the torture chair and steps back to get her implements.  I disrobe (the underwear takes a moment but the tunic's quick and easy) and hop right up there.  The doctor adjusts the stirrups and tries to not trip on my tail.  She does take a moment to stroke it, lightly.  "I don't know why I didn't think it would be this soft." 

"The underside is a bit softer than the outside," I say, and swipe her cheek with the back of it, unthinkingly. 

She freezes for a moment, panic and fear spiking in her and warring with her control.  The control wins out, but I'm thinking that I shouldn't do that again without her asking for it.  She 'hides' her reaction by stepping away to 'check' on her implements once more.  I don't say anything, fearing that it will only make things worse. 

The nurse comes in at that moment.  "*SQUEE!!* You're so cute!!"  She comes over and starts to pet me immediately before stopping as abruptly as she'd started, "I'm so sorry!  I should have asked if it was okay!  You must get that all the time, huh?  I can't imagine anyone as cute as you are not having to put up with it at least a little.  Do you mind?"  I shake my head and she resumes stroking my fur a little, "Thanks.  My kids are allergic to most everything with fur, so I can't feed my addiction much!"  She laughs. 

I laugh too, trying unsuccessfully to keep the chitter out of it.  The nurse *squees* again, and the doctor backs away some more.  The nurse notices in that way that nurses have, and calms me down by taking all the measurements needed, giving the doctor time to get herself back together.  *sigh*  I really need to stop doing this to people. 

Dr. Lancaster steps back over to me and tries to do the examination as quickly and professionally as possible.  She loses that fairly quickly, though.  It's not that things there are so much different when you get a look at them; it's more that there's so much fur there that adds to the complications.  At least she's not allergic. 

And the tail.  Let's not forget the tail.  I am - normally - pretty good at controlling it.  But when I'm getting examined, my mind sort of tries to not concentrate on what's going on down there.  My tail then sort of gets in the way of things instinctively.  That's probably the main reqason why it'd been strapped down in the hospital. 

The doctor could have responded in any number of ways - and I could tell that frustration was leading quickly to anger - but she chose laughter.  About the fortieth time that she was brushed back by a bushy tail, she started to chuckle.  "Do you think you could do something about this?  It's getting in the way and I don't want to have to cut it off."

She's smiling to show me she's just kidding, but I'm embarassed at my lack of control.  I shrug and start to answer her when the nurse wraps herself up in it and holds it away.  She and the doctor smile at each other, then get back to w*rk. 

Apparently, my body temperature is warmer than most people's.  I suspected this when she placed the 'warmed' speculum in position and a chill socked right through me.  She told me to cough, and I chittered instead.  I'm glad that they're shaped like they are.  I almost sucked it all the way in when she was startled into letting go. 

The hits just kept on coming: scraping, poking, rubbing, pressing, prodding.  You name it, she did it.  The nurse, Janet, almost kissed the wall when I got scraped.  I know I'm not the first to go through this, and that most every girl has gone through this too.  None of this knowledge helps when you're going through it. 

"Sexual history?" 

"None.  I'd like to keep it that way for a while." 

"Your lack of a hymen is interesting.  I wonder if that's a side effect of your hybridization.  Maybe Squirrels don't have-" 

"Most squirrels - at least 'flying squirrels' - have hymens,"  They both just blink at me.  "I looked up everything I could find when I learned what I was becoming.  I was hoping it would help." 

"How often do you menstruate?  Have you-" 

"So far, It's been every three months or so.  Real squirrels - should I say 'full squirrels?' - only mate twice a year, but their cycle is for three months on, then three months off.  I'm glad that mine doesn't last that long.  So far it's been four fun filled nights with a two day ramp up." 

While we were chatting, she took some blood from me, and squirted something into it.  She seemed satisfied with the results - whatever they were - because she gave me the okay to start a regimen.  She chose a set of pills for me, and gave me a prescription for them.  I was given a few warnings, and told to contact her immediately if there were any problems.  I was quickly on my way after that. 

I meet Mom in the lobby/waiting room, and she tries to avoid me while I dress in my burkha.  She steps forward to talk with the doctor about something personal (something squicky) so I make my way out to the car, hoping to be safely ensconced before Mom got out.  Fail:  Door locked. 

So now I'm waiting out here for Mom to get out of the doctor's office.  Parking lots are weird places to wait:  Not a lot happens there, but there's a lot of background noises.  I see a squirrel who's (I think) trying to watch me without getting too close.  I'm smiling at him when everything changes again. 

I wasn't expecting to be hit in the back of the head by a bat (I don't know what it was exactly, but it nearly knocked me out) and then kicked in the ribs by w*rk boots.  Then they went to w*rk on me

The best thing I can say is that I have a hard head.  Everything from that point on is a blur of pain and shock.  Police say that there were four of them.  I'm so glad that I'd been w*rking on self defense:  I don't remember using any of it.  (that was sarcasm, btw) 

I did bite one of them while they were raping me (another memory I'm glad I don't have) and the Police caught them while he was getting his calf taken care of.  They'd rushed off thinking I was dead enough. 

Between catching them at the hospital and the DNA recovered from my body, I didn't have to testify at the trial.  Which is a very good thing.  I spent almost three days in the hospital before I even woke up, and two more recovering.  It seems that I have some sort of regeneration dealie going on.  I probably shouldn't say it, but be thorough if you're trying to kill me.  Otherwise I'll just get back up and go after you. 

I'd missed another week of school, which wasn't cool (yes, my digitigrade feet are longfellows).  My mother stopped by the school to get my coursew*rk and stayed by my bedside the whole time I was there. 

Let me repeat that:  She stayed.  With me

Something about seeing me there covered in blood snapped whatever it was in her head that caused the fear.  She was back to her old self, even joking about me making trouble for everyone everywhere I go.  If I'd known what it'd take to get Mom back, I'd have volunteered to almost die months ago. 

It wasn't easy at all to catch up with the schoolw*rk - and I know I missed a lot - but I tried.  It took the whole weekend, too.  I couldn't hang out with my friends, though they did stop by to check on me (and help me a little with some of it). 

But I did recover in time to get back to school on Monday.  I do hope that the pills will help my tender psyche to deal with the stress.  While I'm at it, I should also hope that the boys stay away from me.  That'll w*rk, too. 

*

Dr. Brahms

Subject is a male, approxiamtely eighteen years old.  He seems to be entering into the preliminary stage of MORFS:  Bloodwork confirming this diagnosis to follow.  His sister has already contracted MORFS, though we don't know where or when.  Parents do not travel:  Inquire about secondary family travellers. 

Too early to see what form it might be, though bloodwork might shed some light. 

Inquire from some of the pharmaceutical companies as to probability of a testing kit of some sort.  It would make these diagnoses more reliable.  Likely safer, too. 

Color him 'guinea pig', his parents have taken the bribe - I mean:  'Financial Incentive' - to allow us to test the sleep cure more extensively.  Full monitoring is on call, and support in the event of a crash is also on twenty-four hour watch. 

Maybe this test will prove the theory and get Hobbes the hell off my back. 

No, no.  Don't add that last part.  Dr. Leslie Brahms, yadda yadda yadda. 

 

Chapter TWENTY-SIX

September 7, 2009

Entering school as if nothing had happened.  That's the plan.  I'd had a few extra days off, but that sort of thing happens.  No one would be talking about it, right?  I'm not important at all, and there's no reason to be talking about anything. 

I only wish it'd been normal.  I'm greeted at the door by people who honestly couldn't believe the stories:  People who were- who'd been... raped... do not walk back into the building like nothing happened.  I don't remember any of the... occurrance  - which I'm really glad about, mind you.  I haven't liked any of my dreams, lately.  Some part of me must remember. 

But the people in school fall into roughly four categories:  People who'd heard what happened and are freaked out about it - and want to help me in any way they can (as long as it isn't leaving me alone); People who've heard about it and don't believe it - thinking that I'm trying to get attention by trumpeting my story around the school (despite my not trumpeting anything at all); People who'd heard about it and wished that those four (yes, four) guys had gone a lot further and actually killed me (I wish I were kidding about that); and people who haven't heard much of anything at all. 

I really like that last group.  I'm not a big fan of people approaching me, most especially not for this.  As for the rest: I don't need help with this.  Seriously!  I was out of it for three days.  I don't remember any of it.  Let it go, please.  Funny how I still get squeamish about talking about it, though.  Must be a delicate subject.  (sarchasm:  The gulf between the joke and those who try to get it) 

School starts as usual.  Thankfully, no one makes an announcement over the P.A. system telling everyone to treat me as if I were a bag of broken glass.  Spanish class is absolutely normal, and it seems as if I've not missed anything.  Nice. 

Chemistry is a different matter.  My partner - while sympathetic about the... about my incident - is upset because she'd missed a week of experiments because most of them you really can't do by yourself.  We're going to have to stay after for a week or two to catch up.  Not really a problem for me:  I don't have a boyfriend to be kept waiting.  Allison, however... 

It's hard to say that things are back to normal when I've only been here less than a week, but things are as normal as they can be.  Todd and crew are back in school, and they're a cause for some concern:  But, they keep their distance - except for giving me hugs.  I hardly ever turn down a hug.  Even if I don't need it, the other person almost certainly does, so... 

I hold my breath and get it over with.  With the exception of Todd rubbing my back in a distinctly (and probably carefully thought out) non-creepy fashion, it's very brief and almost pleasant.  I have no reaction to them.  None at all.  I'm tempted to go after them and sniff them, but I really don't want to confuse any issues.  I forbear. 

But I am curious about it, and want to see Scott so I can know for certain.  I don't see him in lunch, though.  'Have to try him later.  Heh. "'Scott, would you mind terribly if I climbed on you and sniffed your neck, please?  Thank you. *Sniifff*".'  I might want to w*rk out a better script for that. 

English is next, and I'm really nervous about going in there.  It's a hard class to be in as it is, and now I'm playing catchup.  He meets me at the door with a schedule for lost w*rk: tough but fair.  I can probably get it all done, but I'm not going to have any free time to speak of. 

I should probably put off any experiments with Scott for a week or so (maybe two). 

It's with genuine relief that I enter trig.  Math isn't a mystery to me, and everything goes as well as it can as long as you follow the rules.  I can follow rules.  I'm good at following (most) rules.  Math - while it isn't easy - isn't hard.  And the troubles I'd had were with pheromones.  The 'fix' seems to be holding. 

I walk my way back to Chemistry to meet Allison and get started on the backload.  I'm still kind of hoping that Scott will make an appearance, but nope:  No show.  Drat.  She's there when I get there, and so is her boyfriend.  He tries to make me feel bad for making him miss some of his girlfriend's limited time, but it washes over me. 

'Wasn't exactly my choice, Sparky.' 

We finish in good time, and might actually get done this week.  That will be nice.  I catch Sparky checking me out while Allison isn't looking.  He smirks at me.  I don't know why: maybe in invitation, maybe he feels safe knowing that Allison won't believe me if I tell her.  Whatever.  I really don't have time for it, anyways. 

I leave as quickly as I can, and I still don't beat them out of the parking lot.  'Wow.  They must really be late for something.' 

Whatever. 

Is it a bad thing to have developed this attitude towards things?  I feel like maybe it is, but I don't know how to stop it, other than to genuinely care about things that I genuinely don't care about..  Oh, well.  I have an awful lot of w*rk to get done.  After supper, though. 

Mom's been waiting long enough, I think. 

*

Hobbes

"Lab results are back:  There's something you should look at, here."  Nurse Watson's waving a folder at me.  I suppose I should take a look at it.  She's been assigned to me to help out with the influx of MORFs cases. 

I also think she's here to spy on me for the board:  It seems I sometimes forget to log my data in the rush of discovery.  As long as I get a copy, too... 

Huh.  It seems like Ms. Robinson has an odd virus in her saliva glands.  It doesn't look like rabies, and bears a strong resemblance to the MORFS bug. 

Rabies is spread by biting, and I don't imagine she'll be biting anyone anytime soon.  She seemed like a nice enough girl, anyways.  I suppose someone should make a notation in her files. 

I wonder what it does?  It's not exactly like the MORFS bug...  It seems similar, but- 

 

Chapter TWENTY-SEVEN

September11, 2009

Finally get done with Chemistry backlog today.  I'm mostly done with English backlog, as well.  It'll be very nice to get back to 'normal'.  I'm starting to wonder about what 'normal' might be.  I hear from Julia that Scott's in the hospital with CHA-  MORFS.  Shut up. 

His family's wondering what he'll be like when he emerges:  They're in the same boat as my folks were when I was in, except that he'll be out faster.  And they know what he's got.  And the doctors know how to deal with it, now.  And stuff. 

Oh, well.  I ask her to let me know when he's released, so I can say 'hi'.  She says, "No problem," and she's smirking:  Probably thinks I'm smitten, or something.  I'm just trying to help him cope as someone who's gone through it before.  Yep.  I'm a giver. 

Something's off on the path home.  It usually feels calm and peaceful.  This feels... turbulent, somehow.  I'm a little more careful than I usually am, and notice some people waiting ahead.  Looks like six or so boys from school (letterman jackets are distinct) are waiting to ambush me.  I suppose they could be there for some other reason, but... 

I start feeling a bit anxious (there were those people who said that the four men should have killed me) - and then I see the shotgun.  'What the-'.  My fear is rapidly being replaced with anger.  They're talking amongst themseves about what they're doing - I can't understand what they're saying at that distance, but the gestures are distinctive. 

The one with the shotgun's sighting through the trees and fires a shot.  It shocks me out of my reverie and I start breathing quickly; feeling flush and starting to shake.  They laugh about a squirrel that they've shot out of a tree while waiting for me.  I place my things in the tree I'm hiding in, and make my way over to them. 

I don't really have a plan, except that they have to stop.  Something's taken hold of me as I descend from the treetops, and it doesn't seem to care about who they are, or if they're innocent.  The first one takes my toe claws in the neck as I drop, the second one finds my hand claws going through his neck without slowing much. 

It's a very good thing for them that they're spread out, it makes it possible that I might not kill them all.  I'm sincerely glad of that, even though it costs me.  One of them takes off running when he sees the blood, another comes in and tries to slash me with a knife.  He seems to move in slow motion as he attacks.  I'm slowed, too:  I'm just faster

I claw his arm, and then across his chest two or three times as he reels back.  The other two come in, trying to trap me between them.  I pick the first one and rush him, finally remembering some of the martial arts I've been studying.  I block/punch the knife thrust he tries -  taking a long slash on my arm, but stabbing his face with my claws. 

He falls back as the other one clubs me in the head with a tree branch.  I have a hard head, and I'm pretty well pumped up with adrenaline: I still feel it and sway to the side to avoid the following swing.  I hear a *BOOM!* and he disappears in a spray of gore.  The first guy I'd hit had gotten the shotgun back up and was trying to cock it with one hand, the other one holding his neck to try and stop the bleeding. 

I thrust-kick him in the chest, knocking him backwards.  I  catch the shotgun as it flies out of his hand and smash it against a tree.  I glance around for the next threat.  They're all down or fled, and there's so much blood.  I start to lose it then, feeling my stomach rebel at the smells and... carnage.  I jump up into the trees and head back to my things. 

Then I fall right out of the tree and throw up.  I cry, shouting my grief and trying to release the guilt I'm feeling.  What have I done?  Surely there was another way to do this?  Would it have not been better if I'd just surrendered?  Or just left?  I'm shaking so hard, I can't make a conscious movement.  I just sit there, rocking and shaking. 

I feel a sense of peace come over me:  And, like Calvin was hugging me, I slowly stop shaking.  They'd been waiting for me.  They'd brought a gun, and knives.  They'd planned to kill me, and tried to execute the plan (and me, for that matter). 

I don't know how long I sat there, it might well have been hours.  I hear my Dad calling me, and I answer.  I think I whisper it, at first;  but I answer.  That gets me out of my shell, and I try a shout.  It takes a few tries, but I finally manage.  He comes to me, and I can tell he's seen the bloody area I'd been in. 

I just stand there:  I don't want to spook him by moving towards him quickly.  I so very much need a hug from him.  Daddy will make things right.  It's a bedrock belief of all children.  There can be nothing that harms you when in your Father's arms.  I know it's false, but it's one of the things that keeps a family together:  One of the little lies we tell ourselves. 

All that matters is that Daddy is here, and I am safe. 

Then I hear the Police coming.  We're too far down the path for the cars to reach, so they must be walking.  It'll only be a few more minutes, then it'll be done. 

Dad rushes over to me and hugs me.  I really needed that.  He's trying to see if I'm hurt and trying to keep me calm at the same time.  (Note:  Kudos for trying - I do appreciate it - but I don't see how the two can happen at the same time)  I end up reassuring him, telling him I'm okay, and showing him my arm (the cut isn't bleeding anymore.  It isn't visible anymore.  Weird). 

So that's how the police find us: Dad outraged at my injury and proud of me (for living, not the killing), me trying to give and recieve reassurance and comfort.  Hugs are almost perfect for this, btw. 

There are three officers and a dog moving quickly up the trail towards us, with the dog barking up a storm.  The police are trying to:  Discover what the panicked young man had been talking about;  find the bodies that are supposedly down this trail;  make sure we're unarmed and safe;  keep their guns on me until I'm in handcuffs and therefore safe (someone finally notices the bloody claws on the squirrel girl);  and keep my Father from interfering with their efforts. 

I offer no resistance to them and try to keep my Father calm as they slap the cuffs on me.  Or, I should say, 'try' to slap the cuffs on me.  This ends up being impossible to do because... patagia.  They finally just put me under guard:  The k-9 unit and keeper keep watch over me while the others split off.  One of them talks to Dad about what he knows, while the other moves farther up the trail, looking for the bodies. 

The dog takes a moment sniffing me, then lays down and lets me pet him.  I'm happy to do so; it keeps me from thinking about things too much.  The handler-officer tries for a couple minutes to keep the dog away from me, but Cliffy (dog's name, don't blame me) isn't having any of it. 

It takes them over three hours to clean it up, even after they call in two other units.  They want pictures of everything, even bringing in lights so they can get them.  Dad gives up after a while, just waiting until they're done so we can go home. 

I don't think he understands normal people very well.  Don't get me wrong:  There are times when he's a font of understanding and wisdom.  Most everyone he meets comes away from him feeling like they're better people for having had the experience.  He still gets calls from a couple he'd helped out on their way to the lawyer's to file for divorce.  I'm not saying that he kept them together, and that everything was rosy after that.  I am saying that he got them thinking about each other in the way they used to think (and feel) about each other.  He says that all he did was change their tire for them. 

They're still together, too. 

But he also doesn't quite get it when people are making things worse just to make themselves feel better.  Case in point:  Three hours later, the sun is going down, pictures are all taken, he's been questioned, and the ambulances have taken everyone else away.  I was still sitting on the cold ground under guard - hungry - and no one has asked me any questions.  Dad's just thinking that this is the last thing on the list before he can take me home.  I can tell he's anxious to get it over with so I can come home and explain it to my Mother.  (He really doesn't want to be the one to do that) 

So he sighs when the sherriff comes over and motions for me to get up.  I get up stiffly and stretch.  He steps back and asks the officer (k-9) why I'm not in restraints.  The officer's trying to keep his dog from defending me from the angry sherriff while still answering that the cuffs won't fit because... patagia.  (he used the term, 'wing flap thingees', but we all understood) 

The sherriff is obviously not concerned with my health or comfort because he comes over to me with his cuffs out to restrain me.  Cliffy's having none of that, even dragging officer Marks over so he could stand between us.  There's a lot of shouting (and cussing.  I know that I won't be voting for sherriff Gage in the next election) from everyone there just trying to keep people from getting shot. 

I just hold my hands out to the sherriff so he can see for himself that I can't wear the cuffs.  His response?  He pulls out a knife, so he can cut away enough of the flaps to get the cuffs on me.  I yank my hands back like they're on fire, just as everyone explodes back into shouting.  My Dad, however, doesn't say a word.  He steps quickly into the sherriff's space and picks him up by the neck (one handed) and carries him over to a tree (one handed) and slams him against it until he drops the knife (third try). 

When he drops the sherriff everyone snaps out of their trance, and they rush over to my Dad to get him away from the sherriff.  No one pulls a gun, or anything:  It was more like a UFC referee (or five) breaking up a fight.  No one brings out any cuffs, either.  I've since been told that this is the proper reaction to someone doing the right thing.  I'd just never seen it before. 

The sherriff gets up after a minute or so, forgetting about the knife in favor of his gun.  He's just cleared it from his holster when he's knocked off his feet by Cliffy; who tears the crap out of his arm.  See, when the other six cops were trying to get their guns out (I'm thinking it was to force the sherriff to stand down, or something), officer Marks let go of the leash.  Cliffy took this to mean, 'go get him, boy!'  So he did. 

Police dogs are trained to go after armed assailants and disarm them (sometimes, by taking the arm off).  Once sherriff Gage drops the pistol and covers his head with his arm, Cliffy lets him go and takes up station near him, still growling and barking. 

With all the confusion going on, no one's noticing me.  I can easily traipse off and not come back.  I stay.  I want people to know that.  My choice.  I stayed

The cops cuff sherriff Gage (just to shut Cliffy up, they tell him).  He's trying to calmly insist that they take the dog away.  They (not one of them) are having none of it, and instead try to convince him of the facts:  I hadn't run, I wasn't resisting, I'd been a willing captive, etc. 

Gage makes his mistake at that time:  He'd known one of the injured boys.  He starts ranting about 'the beast that killed his nephew', and the jig is up.  They keep him in restraints and tell him that he's off the case.  One of them takes him to a car and places him in the back.  Maybe he's under arrest? 

I'm escorted to another car and placed in it, along with Cliffy.  We're keeping each other calm and waiting for the rest to happen.  Dad's confused for a second, then tells them that he's going to get his car and go to the station.  They'll have that long to figure out what's going on and get me cleared. 

The officers try to say something to him, so he waits there and just stares them down.  They get into their cars and drive us off.  (one of them muttered a 'yes, sir' as he got in) 

We get to the station quickly (I think they want all the time they can get to square me away.  I understand:  Dad's scary, sometimes).  They get me out of the car and into the questioning room.  It's supposed to be an interrogation room, but I shouldn't have been there in the first place, so...  Just 'questions', then. 

As a minor, I shouldn't have been taken anywhere without either my Dad or someone from Children's Services.  They're hiding under the 'murder isn't a misdemeanor' shtick.  They want to know what had happened in the forest, so I tell them.  I tell them everything

I've just starting talking to them when my Dad comes in (right into the room where I am) and holds my hand.  He doesn't say anything to them, but a few of them get that 'oh, cr*p' look like when you know you've been bad and you're caught.  I take them through my incident outside the doctor's office, and then through my days at school.  Dad's getting angrier.  I don't think he's angry at the cops, but that doesn't help them calm down any. 

He stands up and starts pacing when I tell them about the students at school who'd wanted me dead.  The cops want to know how I'd heard the other students, so I have to show them how my ears w*rk.  They don't much care for that. 

It doesn't matter, anyways.  Dad tells them to release me, and file charges against Gage.  They say that they can't do the first without the judge's say so.  Dad calls the judge on his phone (Dad has pockets, so Dad can carry a cell around.  I'd still rather not have people being able to call me whenever/wherever I go) and arranges for my release.  There are a few threats involved:  My treatment since the incident; my not having been fed, cleaned up, or cared for in the least; the lack of Children's Services; the absolute insanity of (soon to be ex-)sherriff Gage; etc. 

I'm out of there and home by midnight.  I needed to be: I still haven't been fed.  Dad calls Mom and has her make me something while we were coming home.  I have a shower, then eat a bunch of salad before going to bed.  I still have to appear in court (two cases: the original incident, and Gage) 

I don't know how the people at church are going to be.  Some of the boys' parents are members.  I know better than to lay low, but I really want to.  I hope that things won't be too bad. 

Then I wonder about school... 

Then I fall asleep. 

*

Officer Wilks

What is up with the Sheriff?  He knows better than to get involved with a case he's... involved in!  I hope that Mr. Robinson doesn't push for Gage's removal:  That won't sit well with his brother. 

It's always the quiet ones, though.  She certainly doesn't seem like the type of girl to be wary of:  One look at the crime scene, though... 

Things always look better in the morning.  Just have to wait unti- 

The fax machine's spitting out something.  I hate graveyard shifts when stuff like this goes on. 

Looks like a bunch of forms for...  Uh oh. 

*

Mom

"And she's okay?"  I really need Jake to tell me things are fine.  I need it.  Things haven't been right between me and Amy, and I...  I don't think I can take it if she's going to be taken from me.  From us

"I made the calls, and she's home with us now.  The sheriff's going to be facing a full investigation for his actions, and everyone's toeing the line," he snuggles me a little tighter.  "It's self defense against a mob.  She's going to sail through the trial.  They need to have one because of the negative publicity, and to put things to rest.  That's why there are public trials." 

I trust my Jake. 

I keep praying nonetheless. 

 

Chapter TWENTY-EIGHT

September 12, 2009

I'm allowed to sleep in on Saturday.  I know this because Mom's watching my windows from my old room when I wake up.  She waves me over once she sees me, so I jump right over.  She proceeds to yell at me for streaking and tells me in no uncertain terms that I am to get right back to my room and put some clothes on. 

I hug her before I do so. 

I'm hungry, so I eat breakfast while I answer Mother about what happened last night.  She's shocked when I start with the boys I'd hurt, and freaks out a little about the ones I'd killed.  I tell the story from the beginning after that, and she calms down a bit.  I don't think she's tracking with the killing of the boys, but she lets me finish and doesn't condemn me for anything. 

I get a lot of hugs that morning. 

The phone keeps ringing:  Sometimes it's reporters wanting a story; other times, angry people from church who want me to hang for killing the boys.  Then the  school calls to tell me that I'm not to came back until this is decided in court. 

My friends don't call once:  They just come over.  There's some initial confusion when they go up to my treehouse door and knock.  I chitter at them (can't whistle anymore) and tell them I'm being punished, and not allowed in my room.  They all get a real kick out of that:  Usually a child is punished by sending them to their room.  I'm not allowed in mine. 

We all hang out that day - playing games and watching movies - just trying to avoid the stress and pressure.  (to this day, I have never completed a game of Risk.  It's a great game - I love playing it - but something always comes up to keep it from ending.  The fact that a good game takes aver four hours might have something to do with it.  Maybe. 

Scott and Julia come over.  Normally, I'd see who's there by looking out my window.  I'm not in my room, so I have to wait until they knock on the door.  There isn't a policeman stationed at the foot of the drive, or anything;  I'm kind of surprised that no one comes over to picket us, or anything like that. 

I've been released from custody, showing everyone that the police don't think I'm guilty of anything (or that Dad was crazy rich, and willing to spend it all to keep his daughter out of jail).  I don't think that that's why people didn't mob us.  I'm thinking that it's more of a 'wait and see' thingee.  The people mostly want to let someone else handle it. 

Anyways, there's a knock at the door.  My Dad goes to answer it, telling the rest of us to stay back.  I hear a male voice talking to him, and Julia's voice chiming in as well. 

"I was wondering if Amy was available?" Male. 

"She wanted us to come by when he was out, so I thought we'd come on over even though there was trouble with cops?  Why is there trouble with cops?  People are talking like something really bad's happened, but I don't know what it could be?  I'm sure that Amy could tell us and I know that she's gonna want to see Scott now tha-"  (Julia, if you were wondering) 

I'd taken off when I heard Scott's name.  I probably should have come over when I'd heard Julia, but...  I slam into the guy next to Julia with a tackle-glomp.  I'd been travelling too fast to stop - or even slow down - so I tackle the poor guy thinking it's Scott. 

He (the guy I'd flattened) is a hybrid dog-boy.  This doesn't bother me too much - what could I say? - but he doesn't look a lot like Scott.  Scott was tall, this boy is shorter (not quite five foot six).  Scott was usually clean shaven, this boy's covered head to foot with this gloriously soft reddish brown/smoky gray fur.  His tail's much longer than Scott's (though mine still dwarfs it.  It dwarfs him, come to think of it).  

He sure smells a lot like Scott, though. 

"HI."  Me. 

"Hi, yourself."  Scott. 

"So, you've CHANGEd..." 

"Yep.  The doctors called it MORFS, or something." 

"Yeah, Hobbes got rooked out of naming it, because I was too late getting to the Hospital.  Something like two days.  He was pretty bummed about it." 

"I imagine he was.  He's my doctor, too.  He told me about waiting to see if there were going to be any problems before putting me to sleep-  That came out way weirder than I'd wanted it to!  The sleep cure that the other doctors were raving about.  It wasn't that funny, Amy." 

I've collapsed on his chest, giggling at the 'put to sleep' thing.  "I'm glad that they decided to wait before putting you to sleep!  There are probably some people around who like you enough to keep you around." 

"Amy?  Would you mind terribly getting of this poor boy's chest so he can get inside our house and meet your Mother?"  Dad. 

Mother:  The magic word.  I'm up off Scott's chest in a flash.  Dad helps Scott up off the ground, not hesitating at all with the furry hands or odd legs (digitigrade?  Mine are like that, too, so...).  I've said it before:  My Dad's kind of cool like that. 

I don't think he's all that happy about the tackle, mind you.  He keeps his hand on Scott's shoulder all the way into the house; showing off some of the details as they walk through.  I drag Julia in behind them, not quite able to stop talking to her about all the news.  I don't know if it's the new 'girl speak', or some aspect of squirrel; but we're speaking at mach speeds and show no signs of slowing down.  (she's been remembering to breathe, too.  It's nice to make a positive impact in someone, neh?) 

I think Dad's trying to steer Scott to an empty chair, but the only spot that's open is the couch.  All but one chair in the house has been replaced to be tail friendly (Mom's aunt gave my parents a chair when they married), but the couch isn't included in the deal. 

He finally gives in and sits down on the far end (where I usually sit).  It takes him a few moments to find a comfortable position, but then he almost melts into the cushions.  Dad's fears are confirmed when Julia sits at the other end, so she can talk to Sarah. 

'I guess the only spot open is the one next to Scott.  Darn.' 

The thing about sitting with a tail (I imagine it's true with any tail, but especially so if it's of any length) is that you almost have to sit at an angle:  Your spine continues out of your bottom, so sitting straight up will cause it to bend under your weight.  I can lie flat on my back, the tail just slides out from underneath me (usually curling over my feet).  It's not all that comfortable because of my breasts trying to suffocate me (okay, they're not that big, but still...), but my tail has nothing to do with that. 

As an aside: I usually sleep on my side, and use my tail as a blanket/leg separator.  Now you know (and you've been dying to, haven't you?). 

Anyways; sitting where I am, I have to lean to one side or the other.  Julia - while a sturdy little thing - would be crushed under me.  I just have to lean the other way.  Logic dictates it. 

It's a little surprising how easy it is to slide in under his arm, and just rest there.  The BC regimen I was on handles the pheromony problems I've been having, so this is just genuinely nice.  Not for Daddy, I suppose.  I'd really like to have more negative feelings about this - I really would.  When I'm sitting there, though; I just can't manage it.  I'm at peace. 

It doesn't last long, of course.  After my Mom gets everyone some refreshments, we all settle down to discuss what will be happening on Monday.  The discussion starts with the trial, all my 'friends' trying to spook me out:  "What if they lost the evidence?  What if you get a judge like that Gage fellow?  What if they say they were just out hunting when you jumped them?"  And so on. 

Dad goes to the door to let in the lawyer he's hired to prep me.  I hadn't been thinking about this, so I'm sort of surprised at it.  Sure, it makes sense, but...  I settle in another room with him and we get down to it.  He makes me very uncomfortable - and it takes me a few moments to figure out why. 

He hates me.  There's a surprising (or maybe not so surprising) amount of fear, but it takes a back seat to the hatred he's almost projecting.  It makes the room stink so badly, I think that even Dad can tell. 

Not the case, because there's no way Dad would have left me here alone if he'd known.  I'm finding it hard to breathe, like there isn't any oxygen in the air anymore. 

I guess he's a good choice for this, because it makes me get used to someone raging at me.  Mr. Louis is almost foaming at the mouth as he's shouting questions at me.  I'm starting to get a little flustered from the treatment.  Then I remember God.  God wasn't in the windstorm, or the thunder, or the fire:  God came in the quiet. 

It was the still, small voice saying:  "Be still, for I am with you." 

So I stop shrinking from the lawyer, and just answer the questions.  He notices the change in my demeanor, of course - even if he doesn't know where it's coming from.  He tries a few more times to get me to crack again, but then gives it up. 

"Just answer the questions like that, and you should have no problems." 

He doesn't stick around any more after that.  I think he says something to Dad on his way out but that's it.  Dad's looking at me a little weirdly, so I smile at him.  He looks puzzled, but returns the smile. 

I return to the 'party' and sit right back down with Scott.  Everyone stays with us for supper, and we watch movies until way too late.  Mom wakes me up after the last movie, and tells me that people should start making arrangements to get themselves home. 

I nod and start to stretch out, only to stop as I realize where I am:  Wrapped up safe and warm in Scott's arms.  I stop dead for a moment, then look at Mom with a question.  She smiles, but nods.  I give her a pleading expression.  She returns a 'Do I have to get your Father?' look. 

*sigh* 

Then I stick my nose into Scott's neck and just inhale his scent.  Now that I know it isn't dangerous, I revel in the way he smells.  He still makes me want to be with him - to know him, Biblically - but it's no longer an overpowering drive.  Not to me, at least. 

Scott tightens his grip on me and nuzzles me from my neck into my ear.  He starts licking me there, and the shivers start radiating down to my groin.  As much as I am enjoying it (seriously, I have no fear:  Mommy's right there.  What is she going to let happen?), I have to put an end to it. 

"Scott," Oh.  My.  Lord.  I'm sounding so sexy.  "Scott, honey?  We need to stop this now, before Mom gets the hose,"  He doesn't quit right off:  His right hand's just sort of drifting down towards my bum - then it stops suddenly. 

"Hi, Mrs. Robinson.  I was just going to get up and collect Julia so we could drive home.  Would that be okay with you?" 

Mom chuckles, "That's just fine by me, Scott.  Would you like to call your parents to let them know where you are and that you'll be home soon?" 

"I'll text them on my cell.  Thank you, though:  It's nice of you to think of them being angry over this.  -" 

I think my Mom hears that there would have been more just as loudly as I did.  She just smiles and moves to get the others awake. 

I pounce on Scott as soon as her back is turned, though I don't think he is ready for it.  His muzzle's kind of short (and real cute, too), and it's a little tricky trying to get our mouths to meet happily.  I'm going to need a lot more practice kissing him.  'Just need to convince him of that, somehow.' 

I let him up after only a few seconds, I swear.  Mom hasn't even turned from waking the others, yet.  Sheesh. 

Everyone gets up, and out.  There isn't a whole lot of trouble, or even joking.  People were just too sleepy to manage much of anything like that. 

I do hope that everyone makes it home safely, though. 

I go to my room, which seems unduly cold and sterile after how I'd started the night.  Hurm.  I get myself ready for bed and tuck my tired body in under the blanket (my tail).  I don't remember much after that, just that the dreams were a bit warmer than I remember having had before. 

Church is going to be interesting again. 

*

Scott

"Amy still seems to like you," Jules, "and her parents didn't flip out when she sat down on you." 

True.  I'm still not convinced, though:  Many families are on 'good behavior' when there's company.  That doesn't mean that they're good families.  A family is more - should be more - than that. 

I know our family's messed up, all right?  It doesn't take a genius to figure that out.  It'll take a bit more than one night to convince me that someone else's family's that much better.  I'm not that easy. 

No matter how perfect she seems. 

*

Barry Goldsman

That was disturbing.  Jacob was up front about his daughter's MORFS, even the form it took:  He didn't mention (or didn't realize) how disturbing it might be. 

The mental flip towards the end...  That was unexpected.  It was like talking to Kenneth all over again. 

I'll have to think about this.  She acted lke a normal girl:  She got flustered at all the right points, and reacted in much the normal ways.  I thought she'd be more like the animal she seems. 

It seems I owe Jacob a beer. 

 

Chapter TWENTY-NINE

September 13, 2009

Church is interesting.  There are church members outside gathered in a mild throng, (can less than ten people be called a throng?) waiting to express their dis- (-approval, -appointment) at me and my family.  It's a bit upsetting to see God's people act this way; but everyone here is human. 

We get inside without anyone saying anything to us, though Dad does try to spark a conversation with a few of them.  I can feel the tension as we wait for Sunday school to start.  I imagine that that's where the trouble will begin. 

And I'm right.  Alan - Kurt's brother (I'd clawed Kurt's face a bit while he tried to stab me) - sits there glaring at me quietly until the teacher arrives. 

"Mr. Morrisey, why is it allowed in here?  It attacked my brother in the woods and now it just walks in here like nothing's happened?  My brother's face-" he starts to gag a little, "It clawed his face off!  He can't eat proper, and even has trouble breathing sometimes!  If he weren't in the hospital-" 

"Alan!  Calm down!  What's this you're talking about?  I don't think Amy wou-" 

"DON'T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!!  IT MAKES ME SICK THAT YOU AL-" 

He stops when Mr. Morrisey grabs him and starts hugging him.  He struggles for a moment, but then just breaks down and starts sobbing.  Mr. Morrisey's whispering some things to him, and Alan just keeps on breaking.  The teacher looks at us, 'telling' us to leave them alone for a minute. 

We all file out of the room, and a few of the students start to ask me what Alan was talking about.  I don't really feel like going into it again, but they need to know something, so... 

"Kurt and a few of his friends were set up to ambush me on my way home on Friday.  I... I don't know what I'm allowed to say:  There's a court case pending tomorrow." 

They're shocked, and try to get me to explain what I'd said to them; but I say nothing more.  They break up into little groups and hold their own conversations.  After ten minutes or so, I go outside.  I figure I'll hear when the classroom door opens even if the outside door was closed. 

I'm not supposed to be outside - I'm not supposed to see the 'discussion' my Dad's having with two other men in the back of the church.  I most certainly am not supposed to hear the arguments they're throwing at him, the epithets and slurs on my character. 

My father isn't getting angry - at least, not visibly - he just keeps saying the same words over and over:  "That will be decided tomorrow, in court." 

This doesn't please the other men.  They continue to speak, growing louder and louder when my Dad won't relent and let them deal with me now.  That chills me a bit:  I'd always thought well of Mr. Atkins.  He always seemed to be calmer than most of the men, and usually knew what needed to be done. 

I wish I had a phone so I could record what was happening (isn't that weird?  I usually hate cell phones), hoping to be able to capture the truth, like Julia's done for me so many times.  Thankfully, nothing happens.  They stand there for a moment, then go back inside to their class. 

I realize that my class is back in session, and hurry back inside.  Alan isn't there, and I wonder what has happened to him.  Nobody discusses what's happened to send us out of the room.  We just get down to the lesson. 

I really wish I could remember what it was.  My mind was whirling about, and didn't give me any respite for anything as temporary as wisdom.  I'm stuck in a rut - fear and pain and rage all mixed up and clamoring for my personal attention.  I barely notice enough to leave when everyone else does. 

The main service was worse.  My new voice can sing (really, it's about the only music I'm still able to make) but my mind won't let me concentrate on the words.  Mom tells me that I might have a better time in the nursery. 

I don't have any better ideas, so I go. 

Which starts out as a major mistake.  Most of the kids are too curious to feel fear, but there's a little baby boy who does not like me.  He starts to cry the moment I walk in.  I'm about to apologize, but Amy (not me, the other Amy, naturally) looks so harried that I have to stay and help. 

She thanks me and goes over to the other side of the room with little Justin (I don't know him, but she uses his name often enough trying to get him to calm down), leaving me with all the others.  Everyone seems to like a different part of me: tail, ears, cheeks, toes (toes?).  Everyone seems to like the fur, though.  By the time Amy gets Justin to settle down, I'm giving the others tail rides.

I'm strong enough (and the kids are small enough) that I can wrap one of them up in my tail and slowly 'fly' them about the room.  Justin forgets about being scared of me and starts crying because he's not allowed to go over to me and get his own ride.  Amy brings him over slowly, and I take him in tail for a ride (or three) about the room. 

By the time the service is over, the kids are all lounging around me, and I'm holding a sleepy Justin in my arms, rocking him gently with two others wrapped up in my tail.  Amy has the other four in the fort, playing pirates. 

Then the rest of the suck happens.  A mother comes in and sees the tableau presented to her:  A peaceful room with children playing or sleeping quietly.  She smiles and turns to the mother behind her, thinking that everyone will find this as cute as she does. 

The next woman through the door screams in horror at me, waking all the kids and setting them to howl.  She dashes through to snatch her boy from my tail like she's saving him from  a wild animal.  Other mothers come in, wondering why all the children are screaming.  The only trouble they could see is the little boy trying to get back to me, and... what? 

There's nothing quite like being cast as a monster to make you feel cr*ppy, you know? 

I apologize to them - and especially to the angry mother, though she doesn't listen to me - and make my way out the side door, heading on my way towards Dad's car.  My parents finally make their way out of the church, shaking hands and hugging people as they get ready to leave. 

People are still glaring at us, but we have no other trouble as we go to get lunch.  For a wonder, we go inside to eat.  (and we go somewhere other than McDonalds, which doesn't have much of a vegan menu)  We're at a full restaurant: Wait to be seated, glass of water while you look over the menu, and everything.  Some people are looking at us curiously, but no one freaks out.  Nice. 

I hear one of the waitresses arguing that she doesn't want to be our (my) server, and needs someone to switch.  So our new waitress comes out and takes our order.  She's happy to find I'm another vegan and chats with me for a minute before putting our order in. 

It's very nice to be able to sit with my family in public and eat, just like a normal family.  After the disastrous ending at church, it's very welcome.  It's hilarious when a toddler comes wobbling over determinedly, his whole attention focused on my tail. 

I move it about, making him toddle behind my chair to 'catch' it.  He finally pounces on it with a giggling shriek.  The family he belongs to starts shouting his name (Christopher, btw) and looking for him. 

"Is this yours?" I ask, lifting Christopher up with my tail.  They come over to collect their giddy child, apologizing for the interruption while trying to pry his hands off of my tail.  We all thank them for sharing the toddler with us, saying he's no real trouble at all. 

We leave the restaurant smiling.  There's a light rain falling, but it doesn't dampen our spirits at all.  I shield Mom with my tail as we go to the car, and she thanks me with a hug as she gets in.  Moments like this can carry you through the bad times; you just need to remember them. 

I'm also very glad that I'm not going to see Scott today - I'm in the mood to have children crawling on me, and it wouldn't take much for him to convince me to try. 

See?  God does w*rk, even in the small things. 

*

Mom

I'm so glad Amy's gotten over whatever it was that happened in church.  She'd been in a daze since we'd gotten there - is she worried about tomorrow?  Jake says that it won't be any trouble, and I believe him. 

I heard good things about the nursery from Amy (Pederson) and I wonder if I can convince my Amy to sign up for the duty semi-permanently.  I don't know what set Callie off like that, unless it was everyone (or the same six someones) talking about my daughter like she's a menace.  I should call her about it. 

I do hope that Jake's right about tomorrow.  Still...  'Lord, I need your comfort right now.  I know you've got your hand on-' 

*

Officer Jackson

"You all know how it's to go down?  Collect it and put the collar on it.  Then transport it to the old church.  We'll be there to handle the rest.  It'll learn its place, and then we'll get rid of it." 

 

Chapter THIRTY

September 14, 2009

It's different (naturally) getting ready for court today (Monday).  I have to be dressed well - but not too well - and everyone's a little nervous.  Everyone but me:  I'm a lot nervous. 

Other than school and church, I've only been out in public once.  It had been a good experience, but hardly enough to make any sort of judgement about the activity.  There's also the possibility that I'll be going to jail (or worse) by the end of the day.  Everyone's talking like it will never happen, but... 

We arrive at the courthouse on time, and are ushered into the waiting room so we can be briefed on court behavior and protocol.  The bailiff talks us through it, and mentions things that this judge preferrs in his courtroom.  (no talking, no pictures, no shouting, raise your hand to object, etc.) 

We're waiting for only five minutes or so when police officers suddenly come into the room and grab me, pushing me up against the wall and ripping off my tunic.  Dad shoots to his feet and gets tazed by two more officers before he can say anything.  I'm hit by a tazer myself and have a collar clipped around my neck before I can move of my own volition.  (I'd also peed a little) 

I'm then dragged out of the room and into another little chamber where I'm booked, and have them try to take my fingerprints (the fur gets in the way).  They're talking about shaving me to get some useful prints - one of them also trying to convince the others that my wing flaps should be cut off so I could be 'properly secured', but he's shouted down. 

I'm stripped down to nothing (which - oddly - matters to me this time) and told to march out to a van that is waiting for us.  I see Mom outside calling someone on her cell and chitter at her.  She looks up sharply and runs over to us shouting - only to be held back and threatened with the tazer if she interferes.  She ignores them and gets tazed. 

I freak out and kick at one of the officers, catching my toes in his leg.  I use this purchase to kick/claw the one who'd tazed her across the throat.  I'm gearing up to do more, but someone pushes the button for my collar and I'm suddenly on fire - I can't even breathe.  He holds the button down as I collapse to the ground and start to writhe slowly. 

*

Officer Fields

What the hell was that?  The mother comes up and Jackson tases her?  Then (as if anyone's surprised)  the girl just explodes:  Did no one read the report!?  I've got holes in my leg and Jackson's head is almost torn off

Thank God for Karl:  If he'd not been on the button as quick as he was, she'd probably have killed us all.  Good thing Gage told us to collar her, for that matter.  Had to smack Karl to get him to lay off the button, though. 

Due process will take care of her

*

I don't know how long it took after that, but I guess someone got him to drop the stupid thing, 'cause I woke up in the van as we stopped at another courthouse.  I don't know how long I've been out - or anything much, actually.  I'm hurting from everywhere: I don't know if they'd laid the boots to me while I was out, or if this is just how it feels after the collar's used. 

There's also a little blood on my patagia - someone had tried to cut them off, it seems - but I guess they'd been stopped:  I still have them.  My collar has been changed - this one doesn't have a latch - and I wonder what else had been done to prepare for this. 

I'm taken into a church (I later find that it'd been abandoned) and led before a judge.  Ex-Sherriff Gage is standing to the side, talking with the man in the black robes:  I'm guessing that they're brothers, 'cause they look an awful lot alike.  Everyone seems eager to get into position, quickly moving me into a seat by a table. 

I'm shoved down into the seat (which is not tail friendly) and told to sit still and be respectful.  The lawyers come into the room, and I instantly know which one is to be assigned to be my 'defender'.  One's a hard looking man in his fifties, the other looks like a high school student. 

The 'judge' (he seems to actually be a judge, just probably not from here) takes the steps up to the pulpit (church, remember) and the bailiff intones, "All rise."  I start to get up, but am yanked to my feet by my handler.  He warns me not to try anything or I'll get shocked.  I nod.  He seems to think that that's just cause for a shock, because he gives me one.  (I don't know how long it lasts, 'cause I pass out) 

Someone throws water in my face to wake me up (it w*rks).  Coughing and sputtering, I get to my feet:  Too quickly (shocked again).  When I wake up next, I'm told that disrespect will be punished.  I cough to clear my throat.  Wrong action (shocked again). 

See a pattern here?  If I do anything, I get shocked.  If I don't do something, I get shocked.  I'm finding it hard to breathe - and growing ravenous - from the repeated shocks.  The judge finally gets tired of watching them torture me (or else he's getting hungry, too) and tells them to knock it off. 

I get to sit back down - finally - and they start the farce.  I only try to object the once (shocked again), and discover that they'd continued while I was out.  They'd also gotten food brought in, 'cause everyone was stuffing his face (all male, here.  And no, I didn't get anything). 

They're wasting some time with 'the defense':  I'm plunked down in the chair and asked questions.  Any time I try to answer, I get shocked.  I'm beyond emotion at this point.  Too tired, too hungry, too weak, too scared... I've nothing left. 

The judge is just starting to render a verdict when the doors burst open and people start swarming in.  I'd like to tell you what happened next, but my handler decides that I shouldn't be allowed to breathe.  He clamps down on that trigger thing and doesn't let go. 

There were Federal officers mixed in with the new people, and it took everone a few minutes to notice that I was slowly twitching, then another long moment before they could stop him.  I was long past caring, mind you - this is just what I was told after I woke up. 

Oh, yes:  I woke up.  I was eager to tell the nice FBI man all about what had happened to me at the hands of those... I don't have a word for them.  I couldn't talk yet - too much damage from the collar (they weren't sure I would ever talk again, but... regeneration) - but I could type a bit on the tablet they put in front of me. 

So I got to tell my story to everyone there.  The judge ruled in my favour on all counts, and ruled against the people arrayed against me.  They'll be put away while they w*rk on their appeal - I'm not naive enough to think that they'll be gone forever, but a reprieve will be nice. 

I only have to spend one more day (three total) in the hospital - apparently electrical trauma regens quicker than other damage.  I don't know the biology of it, but it's nice to know.  Most of what I need is energy, and some of the I.V. solution that had w*rked so well for me before. 

I get to catch up with Calvin again:  He's gotten married to a lovely girl while I was busy.  His wife's name is Susan, but she prefers 'Susie'.  She doesn't understand why I'm cracking up, though.  Calvin tells her it's likely due to the rough handling I've experienced, and maybe the drugs I'm on. 

 

Chapter THIRTY-ONE

September 21, 2009

For all that it ended well, Monday kind of... sucked.  Thursday wasn't too bad, but Friday fell right back into the suck (first day of 'therapy').  I woke up this day with the option of staying home, but decided to go to school anyways.  I think I've missed enough for now. 

Going back to school to be with my friends (and assorted people who hate me) is going to be great.  I need to get back into the swing of things, or I'll need more summer school.  I don't want the 'who's driving the bus, today' drama to infect my summer vacation.  Again. 

I'm going to have enough to do getting my head screwed on straight.  (I know it's going to be like nine months from now, but... a lot of things have happened this year, you know?)  School is going to be tough; continuing to deal with the CHANGEs (okay, okay.  MORFS.  Sheesh) and other students' reactions to it.  Whatever this is I've got brewing with Scott (mmm...  Scott), and the trouble trio (Todd and company.  Neat, huh?) needs sorting out.  It'll be a busy year for me. 

Mom's trying to delay me by talking me out of going back this week.  Not happening.  I need to get back so I can keep up and not be forced to go to summer school.  I know she's concerned - and I'm really appreciative of it - but I've still got to return to my life.  I grab my lunch and give her a quick hug before heading out. 

I don't know if it's selective amnesia - or maybe I'm becoming a psychopath - but the area where the attack occurred doesn't bother me all that much.  Is that odd?  I'm feeling more sorry for the little squirrel that they killed than for any of what happened to them.  I know that thay were there to kill me, and that there were more than enough of them to do the job (and a shotgun); but, I should be feeling something, you know?  They were still human beings, and I got rid of them without another thought. 

What does that say about me? (and it is all about me, isn't it?)  Does it make me into the animal they were saying I am?   Am I becoming more of a killer, or less of a Christian?  Turning the other cheek doesn't mean to let them kill and/or rape me.  Could I have just avoided them? 

Yes.  I could have simply flown around them, and they would never have known.  They'd have just killed some more woodland creatures while waiting for me, and then tried to come up with another plan to get me.  So... something had to happen. 

Should I have let them kill me?  Please, don't mock:  This is a serious question.  Should I have let them kill me?  If I could have let it happen without the raping that might have been on their mind?  On the one side, it's one life over six (assuming I'd killed them all, which I hadn't).  On the other hand, it's an innocent life balanced against six murderous people. 

I know which side I chose, and I'm not second guessing myself on it.  I'm just wondering if I should so question myself.  I'm not bothered by my actions.  I'm bothered by not being bothered by my actions.  Does that make sense? 

The trip to school allows me more than enough time to knock it around in my head.  I don't come up with any new answers, but I do at least try.  It's hard to imagine that all of this took place in such a short amount of time. 

I get to school and listen to the Band playing:  They're still the best Band in the land.  They come down off the field, and I wave at a few.  Some of them wave back, some of them continue to leave me some more room (I guess it makes sense: I have killed a few people from this very school).  A few of them even come over to talk to me.  Granted, it's the trouble trio, but...

"How you been, Amy?" Todd. 

"I'm mostly back.  Just need to get back into classes and move this behind me."  Me. 

"I'd like to get behind you," Phil, though I don't think I was supposed to hear it. 

Thank you, fur:  No one can see me blush.  "See you guys in class.  Hey!  Jimmy!  Sarah!"  I switch groups as my friends come over. 

"Are you cleared to return to classes?" Jimmy.  Along with -

"Are those idiots bothering you again?" Sarah. 

Once again, I have no problem hearing both of them at once.  Cool, but weird - just like me (ha!).  I nod at Jimmy, and:  "Nope, the trouble trio has relegated themselves into the background.  I don't much mind them there.  I can keep an eye on them and keep them out of trouble.  Maybe.  I hope.  Help?"  This last delivered with a pleading look that I hoped let them know I was kidding. 

They smile, so I guess I didn't do too bad of a job.  I recieve a hug from Sarah (Jimmy still being allergic to me) and they went on inside.  I stay outside to enjoy the morning before it really starts to warm up.  I wonder how it'll be come winter? 

Outside will likely be too cold, while the heaters blasting indoors will make me sick.  I hope that it won't be that bad, but...  Maybe I'll be able to do something about it.  A lighter weight tunic?  Sitting nearer the cold zones?  I'll have to do something.  I go inside to start my day. 

The classes aren't all that bad, thankfully.  Spanish is still a joke, mostly:  I have a few projects that I really need to get started on, but...  Allison's a little pissed at me for ditching her (again!) right after we'd just gotten caught up, but she understands.  I'm not saying she's all over liking me, or anything - she's just cutting me some slack and scheduling time for us to get caught back up. 

I'm all-of-a-sudden popular at lunch, though.  I normally sit alone, and let other people come by if they want to (it doesn't inflict my presence on someone who doesn't want it, for one thing).  But now I have just about everyone who likes me sitting with me:  Matt, Jimmy, and Sarah; the trouble trio; and Julia even sits down with me. 

Scott does, too. 

The BC pills seem to trick my body into thinking that it's already pregnant, so it shuts down the receptors to the pheromones (I'm guessing, but it seems to be a good guess so far).  I have some swelling in the breasts, and the mood swings are trouble, but...  Everything seems to be 'normal'. 

I'm soo glad that these pills do seem to w*rk, because otherwise I'd never get out of here without some sort of sexual activity.  I can sort of feel it w*rking on the edges of my mind, but it's not the all consuming drive that it had been.  I realize that I'm set up just as it happens.  (no warning whatsoever) 

Julia gets up to take her tray to the wash rack just as Scott sits down in her seat.  I'm about to tell him that her seat's taken when he just sort of wraps my (ever-so-willing) tail around him and smiles at me.  I wonder if he can see my blush: Like, maybe it colors the insides of my ears, or something:  His smile gets even wider. 

"Hey, beautiful." 

"Hey.  *ahem*  Hey, Scott.  You do know that Julia's sitting there, right?"  Gosh, I'm so clever.  I can never think when he's around.  He should be illegal. 

"She doesn't mind.  Do you?"  He's stroking my tail (mid-tail.  Don't make this out to be worse than it is.  Granted:  It's pretty bad) and I'm thinking that he's asking me.  Julia takes this moment to sit down on the other side of the table. 

"Nope.  You're good," she smiles as she slides the dagger in.  Not really; it just feels that way, you know?  And he is soo not good.  He's Chaotic-Neutral at best (GAMER ALERT!!) with definitive evil leanings towards me. 

Traitor that I am, I appreciate him leaning towards me. 

I will swear in court that there was a conversation going on, and that I was probably even involved in it: I just can not - for the life of me - tell you anything that was said.  He should be illegal, that's all I'm saying. 

Lunch ends, and with it all hope of my illusions that Scott and I weren't going to be together.  He kisses me.  Sorry.  Wrong word choice.  He claims me, in a very public and thorough way.  As we're walking towards our next classes (English for me, and I don't have a clue where he was going) he stops me and cradles my face in his hands. 

I'm about to ask him what he's up to when he leans down and just claims my mouth like he's landed on a new, undiscovered land.  I feel like I should apologize to whoever it was that I knocked over with my tail:  It shot straight out behind me.  I could feel at least one heavy impact, but there may have been more of them.  (See what I mean?  He should be illegal.  Not just his actions:  His whole being.  I'm not panicking and I stand by my ridiculous statement) 

We probably wouldn't have gotten in trouble if my tail hadn't wrapped itself around us both, forcing him to continue the nibbling.  I'm just coming down from wherever he'd launched me when I hear Mrs. Shumacher clearing her throat loudly. 

I'd like to say that I calmy turned towards her and raised an eyebrow at her interruption, but that would be a lie (rather bald-faced, too).  I shot out of Scott's arms so fast he was spinning (remember, my tail?).  I think she wants to make an example of us by sending us to the office for punishment, but she's too scared of us to get that close.  She informs us that, 'Principal Erin will be told of this,' and that 'You should get to class'. 

I'm off before she's finished talking, jumping from the first floor to the second without touching the stairs.  I move so fast people lose the papers they're holding when the breeze I'm making catches up with me.  I couldn't really hear them, though: I was already in class. 

It's about then that I caught up with me.  I can't believe the things that have been going on around me (notice how I'm not to blame for any of them?).  I wait for Mr. Singer to arrive, and ask him what I have to do to catch up.  He smiles a cold, unfriendly little smile. 

"Miss Robinson!  How pleasant it is to finally see you back with us!  I made a syllabus ready for your eventual return.  You will note that it has been updated to be ready for you.  I am certain that you will try your very hardest to not be absent from my class any more than is absolutely neccessary?"  I nod, taking the packet.  "Excellent!  Please take your seat so we can begin." 

I'm floundering for a good five minutes - trying to keep up with his speech while also looking over  what's in the syllabus - when a very odd feeling comes over me.  Mr. Singer's speech patterns slow a little, and everyone seems to be moving a little slower than they were.  I know that's it's something unusual, because Mike Crimmons drops his pencil and I can see it falling clearly.  It takes more than a second to get to the floor.  I'm stuck in the same molasses as everyone else, except I think I can comprehend a little more clearly than I could before. 

I try to shake off the weirdness - I can explore that later.  Right now I need to use this to catch up.  There has been a paper assigned to the class, to be turned in before the Christmas break, comparing the merits of two different styles of literature.  Every effort should be made to be grammatically correct, also spelling and punctuation need to be flawless.  (it's part of our final grade)

Wow.  Singer's going on about Shakespeare, Missy (don't know her last name, sorry) is trying to quietly tell Sharon Milner (clarinet) about her date last night.  Square (seriously, his name is Spencer Spencer.  How silly did his parents have to be to call him Spencer when their last name is Spencer?  Anyways, he's known as Square.  Spencer squared, get it?) is sort of singing a song - I kissed a girl, by Katy Perry? - but he's changed it to boy.  He's not a bad singer, either. 

My brain should be melting, it's running so fast.  I feel fine, though.  I wonder if this is something that squirrels can do?  Like maybe they can play with time (or the perceptions thereof) or something?  Have you ever seen a squirrel just sitting there, then allofasudden explode into action?  Maybe they do that with some sort of time control thingee.  Maybe no one knows about it because we can't actually talk to a squirrel and ask it what it's sensing.  Huh. 

Anyways, I'm travelling new levels of oddity.  English will be much easier if I can do this when I want to.  All of my classes will be easier, for that matter.  I think that this is what happens to me when I fly, come to think of it.  Everything sort of slows down so I can react to obstacles and the like.  Double huh.  I guess my brain does w*rk. 

As long as Scott's not around.  Hurm. 

The class ends with Mr. Singer rushing out of the room, looking a bit green.  Todd (not that Todd, this one's Todd Andrejack, or something) smacks me in the back of the head with his books as he walks by.  He chuckles as the stars go for a waltz about.  My vision finally clears and I get up to leave, rubbing the back of my head. 

*WHAM!*  I see stars again, this time it's Cody, and he didn't bother with a book - he just used his fist.  I feel/hear/sense him moving beside me and everything kind of snaps into clarity again.  He's getting ready to drop an elbow on my neck, with everybody but one girl looking pleased at it.  I scoot back so I'm not going to be hit (he squashes an ear, anyways) and he breaks the desk with his elbow.  His elbow breaks, too. 

Cody starts screaming in pain and I start to get up, knocking him away from me in the process.  The other kids are starting to move: some of them moving towards the door, two of them moving towards me with anger, and that one girl (what is her name?) starting to scream. 

That's enough to bring Mr. Miller over from across the hall in a hurry.  He barges in, yelling: "What the h*ll is going on in here!" 

Cody's still screaming but the other two stop moving towards me.  All the other students react to the teacher; pointing, talking, or trying to escape. 

"She broke Cody's arm!" Melanie says.  I think they're dating, because I can smell her on him. 

"Cody tripped and broke his arm, Mr Miller," Jack Russel (seriously, people.  If you're going to have children, and your name could be made into something humorous?  DON'T). 

"I think she tripped him as he was walking by, but I don't know if she did it on purpose?  Her tail-" Missy. 

"Cody hit her in the back of the head, then tried to kill her!" Jennifer.  (That's her name.  Jennifer) 

"What did you say, Jessica?" Mr. Miller, asked.  (Okay, it's not Jennifer.  Sue me) 

"He hit her with his fist, right after Todd almost knocked her out with a book.  Then he tried to smash her with his elbow, but she got out of the way and he hit the desk instead," she trailed off as she saw half of the class glaring at her to shut her up. 

The damage was done, however.  "Amy, get yourself to the nurse's office.  Jessica, take her there.  Cody, you'll have to wait to go to the nurse's office; I'll take you to the office myself and explain things to the Principal.  The rest of you have other places to be, yes?" 

I gather my things and go with Jessica (Jessica, Jessica, Jessica.  Must remember: Jessica) to the nurse's office.  Where we wait for twenty minutes for the nurse to arrive.  Well, I'm waiting.  I made Jessica go to her next class so she wouldn't miss it.  She didn't want to leave me, though.  I guess she just wanted a good excuse to ditch. 

I wave to the nurse as she walks in.  She stops dead in her tracks, paling visibly.  She starts shaking and backs away, quickly.  Then comes the shreiking and running towards the office; presumably to get some help with the 'dangerous animal waiting to eat her up'.  Seriously, I can hear the whole exchange.  *sigh* 

Principal Erin walks back with her, trying to keep her calm and explaining what he knows of my history (and parentage.  What does my father do to warrant such respect and fear from people?).  She's calmer, but still won't approach me:  Some phobia against furry creatures, maybe?  

"Amy, what did you do this time," he's trying not to grin.  "Did you 'chitter' at another person?  Hmm?" 

"Sorry, Mr. Erin.  No chittering this time.  Cody tried to take my head off, and broke his elbow when he missed." 

He stops grinning (Instant Authority Figure), "Are you seriously leveling that charge against another student?  Did anyone else see this happening?" 

I know he's trying to cover his bu-  cover the school in case of a lawsuit, but it seems like he's accusing me of lying to get Cody into trouble.  I don't want the attention.  I realize that I'm going to get it whether I want it or not, but... I'd really just like to get through all of this and get on with whatever exists of my life that I can salvage. 

"Jessica saw him do it, and he obviously broke his elbow.  I heard that.  You might be able to get a bruise pattern off of my skull if you're quick:  I heal pretty fast, now."  He just stares at me for a moment. 

Mr. Erin waves the nurse over to me (her name is also Jessica), then says, "Jessica?" (see?) when she doesn't move towards me.  The nurse starts, then inches her way over to me - carefully, lest she startle me into attacking her.  Or something.  Sheesh. 

I turn around  so she can get at my head, and also to try and keep her calm.  Mr. Erin leaves while she starts to gently probe my head, being careful of the ears.  I try not to twitch one to see if she'll jump (I fail.  She does) and wait for her to examine me.  She parts my hair (the fur on my head I still call hair, thank you) and tries to get a look at what I'm sure will be a rapidly disappearing bruise. 

It didn't disappoint.  "Wow!  That's fascinating!"  I'm grinning when I feel a sharpish little sting on my head, sort of like she's pulling my hair a bit.  I'm going to say something but... "How does it do that?  What makes it happen?" 

"I might be able to help if you'd tell me what you're talking about." 

She jumps back almost a yard when I speak up - apparently, she's forgotten that I'm there, you know?  She's inching her way back towards me, "I was just checking.  I saw the bruises fading as I was watching.  You heal really fast, you know? "  She holds up a scalpel, "I just made a little cu-" sudden paling, then: "I am so sorry!  I didn't think ab-  Are you - ?  Please, forg- !  I'M SORRY!" 

She's just standing there and shivering (fear?), so I hug her.  She 'eep's, and goes completely still - like I was going to start eating her if she moved, or something - but can't seem to stop keening.  I make some (I hope) comforting sounds and squeeze her with the tail a bit. 

I feel a small pain in my side (where she has the scalpel) but don't stop until she quiets down.  That takes a minute.  Mr. Erin comes back in as I'm letting her go.  So he sees her pulling the scalpel blade out of my side and hears her aplologizing to me for it.  I see him tensing up so hard he's likely to explode. 

I smile over to him, hopefully letting him know that there isn't anything bad going on here.  (Not really bad, anyways)  He lets it go:  "Nurse?  Is everything all right?" 

"Sorry, sir:  She heals too fast for me to get a pattern off her.  I was barely able to confirm that she'd been hurt at all, for that matter." 

The principal nods, "Mr. Pauls is going to the hospital for his arm - it is broken, as we thought.  Is Ms. Robinson okay?" 

"Yes!  She's remarkable with her healing!  I checked with a sc-" she stops talking as my tail covers her face.  She 'eep!'s again, but doesn't go after me with a scalpel this time.  She also doesn't go blabbing to the principal that she'd cut into my head with a knife, so... 

"Well.  Why don't we let her get back to class, then?"  It wasn't really a question, so I went along towards trig. 

The halls are mostly empty on the way (surprised?) so it's pretty easy to hear someone whispering, "Is she coming, yet?" 

I stop and wait, wondering if I should go around the other way.  A head pops out of the bathroom (boys, btw) then pops back.  Kevin and another boy step out, looking angry.  I put my arms out, trying to keep everyone calm. 

"Cody broke his own arm trying to hurt me, all I did was get out of the way," I said. 

"We don't care about that idiot.  We just want you to go away.  Freaks like you should be kept away from humanity, locked up or just shot in the streets.  It makes me sick that I have to be in the same building as you.  They want us to treat you just like you were still human:  I'm not sure you ever were.  Do everyone - especially yourself and your family - a favor and just get out." 

I'm starting to get really upset at his words - and trying to come up with a reply - when he just walks away, followed a moment later by the other guy (Greg?).  I'm about to catch up to them and unload (unload what?  I still have no idea how to respond to that) when my brain catches up with me and I just go to class. 

Mr. Miller has apparently forgotten his allergies and starts to walk around the room as he's wont to do.  He quickly remembers and dashes to his desk in the front of the room and bends over the purifier there.  He sneezes once or twice, but that's it. 

"Sorry, Mr. Miller." 

Breathing returned to normal, he asks me, "Is everything all right, Amy?  Any further troubles, or headaches?" 

"I'm fine, Mr. Miller," I said.  I wish so hard that people would just let things slide for once.  Though, with my luck, someone will just shoot me and get it over with.  Then people would let that slide.  Hurm. 

Class ends and I try to make it out without bumping into anyone (a success) and thence to my locker.  I put my books away and get ready to go home when I hear Julia calling my name.  I turn to see her trying to get through the crush of people and remember that I'm supposed to meet Allison at the chem lab.  I slide my way over to Julia and wrap us up in my tail (a privacy barrier, sort of). 

"I forgot I have to get to chem.  Whatcha need?" 

She starts to look sad, then shakes it off.  "I was wondering if we were giving you a ride home, but I guess you're busy." 

I hug her, "Can't today, but I hope to be caught up by next week."  She brightens up.  "Gotta skitter.  Seeya!" 

I scamper off.  Allison's waiting for me outside of the lab, sans boytoy.  I ponder that for a nano, then leave it alone.  I smile at her, "Ready to get this done?" 

She smiles back, "Actually, yes.  Scott can't make it:  His hands wander.  I wonder where else his hands have wandered, you know?"  I shrug.  Not a problem I have to deal with right now.  (I seriously doubt that I'll be allowed to date any time soon)  "Let's get to w*rk, shall we?" 

It doesn't take too long to get the first one done, and that leaves only one more (I have another one, but I can do that solo, like she'd done).  She looks at me like, 'Do you wanna stay and get this done?'  I'm all for it, so I nod. 

Mistake.  Someone (probably her, but I don't know) mixed up the chemicals we were supposed to be using with something a little more reactive.  Nothing explosive, just startling and counterproductive.  She looks at the beaker in a state of shock, then starts to scream. 

I turn to look (I was writing in the journal, waiting for her to tell me the readings) and everything slows again (actually, it sort of seems to stop, but...) as I move to tackle her away from the table.  It's highly unlikely that any damage would have happened to her, but well... PANIC!  You know? 

Everything crashes back in on me as we reach the door.  I think that there's sort of snapback, or something:  She moves away from me and all the sound crashes my ears for a good twenty seconds, I think.  I don't have any real idea of how long, because time's been acting strange around me.  I get back to normal as she's still trying to get it under control. 

The reaction fizzles out and we get it cleaned up.  We both look at each other and stand there for a few seconds before busting into laughter.  We need the release after the tension of the accident. 

"Would you say that it changed to a blue froth, or was it more green?"  I snicker.  She just shakes her head and tries to stop giggling. 

"I think I grabbed the wrong bottle in the back before he locked it up.  Rats! (She didn't actually say 'rats')  The [fuzzy] storeroom is [fuzzy] locked!  I was hoping to get this done today!  [Fuzz!]  [Sizzle!]  [Asterik!]  I can't believe I was that [fuzzy] [sizzle]brained to not check the [fuzzy] labels better.  Are you okay?" 

I'm absolutely still - it's a reaction I have to being around coarse language sometimes:  especially when it's as thick as this was.  She's watching me and wondering if I am a staue, I guess.  I figure I should say something, so I slip out, "That wasn't French." 

She leans in closer, trying to hear what I'd said, so I repeat:  "That wasn't French."  She looks at me again, then starts to giggle some more. 

"I'm sorry.  Mom's been trying to get me to stop talking like Dad," she shakes her head, "But I still react like this."  I don't know what to say, so I just stay quiet.  She continues to chuckle a little as she walks out.  She waits for me to go through the door before she turns out the lights. 

"You shouldn't swear so much." 

I'm stunned that someone would be saying that here, even more so since I thought we were alone.  I almost start to look around to see who it was who spoke, but she turns to look at me.  She seems amused, rather than angry.  I don't know what she's going to say to me, but I feel myself talking again; through the shock and everything. 

"It's a proven fact:  Most people who don't have a care for their words are ignored - or their words are, anyways.  People of influence and intelligence tend to speak better and with less vulgarity than others; either through fear of being outcast or simply knowing that everyone's in this together.  The poor and crude have denigrated the language and tried to bring everyone down to the bottom level, but the truth stands:  If you want to be respected, you need to be careful of how you speak." 

Who was this person speaking?  I sort of recognize the voice as mine, and those are words that I use, but...  I'm usually too uncomfortable to talk this way to my friends, let alone a classmate who doesn't like me.  I'm staring at her in what feels a lot like shock, and she's staring right back at me.  I see anger clouding her face, but she calms it. 

"Thank you, Amy.  I'll have to think on that." 

We walk together to our lockers (mine is farther down the same wing of the school) and she waves me on as she stops at hers.  I get to my locker and drop off what I need to drop off.  She's still a lot faster than me (maybe I don't think I'm in a hurry?) and she pauses at the door. 

"Amy?"  I turn and look at her.  "F*ck you."  She smiles at my shocked face (I don't know if I still have a 'shocked' expression available on my new face, but I'm sure it's trying) and walks out the door. 

I don't know how long I stood there before I closed my locker and left.  The trip home was much as the trip in was; I just had more to think about. 

*

Officer Mike Phillips

"So:  You're saying that she tripped you with her tail, causing you to fall and hit your elbow on the desk - breaking both your elbow and the desk?"  The kid nods.  "Seems like an accident to me.  You need to be more careful.  Carry on." 

My partner is going into shock as we walk off.  At least he waits until we're in the car before exploding. 

"What the hell, Mike?  No harm no foul?  Would he have to kill her before you took notice?  Or would you just call that a good job and give him a commendation!" 

I don't have to take that.  "Look here, rookie:  The court says that those animals are allowed in close contact with everyone, no matter how stupid an idea that is.  Some of them might remember what it was to be human, but we both know that not all of them do. 

"This is the only time I'm gonna clue you in, so listen up:  If it takes blood on the pavement for people to see what things are, then so be it.  Unofficially, I think it can't happen fast enough.  Officially, there isn't enough evidence of a crime to warrant going after a minor.  I would think that you would know this - at least, I hope you do. 

"Gage got himself emotional and it cost him.  Everyone involved got sent away, and that's a good thing."  He's looking at me all shocked, but I'm not done.  "The more people look at this thing, the better the chance that something gets resolved. 

"Would it be better if this never happened?  Of course!  It did happen, though:  And we have to pick up all the pieces and put them back together somehow.  This country - probably the whole world - is heading for a meltdown and I don't know when or how it's gonna be resolved. 

"Our job is to keep the public safe.  Not to pick and choose people based on our feelings.  Use the law, and keep the peace.  Let them settle things themselves until it gets too big for them to handle." 

He looks like arguing with me, but I'm in no mood:  "Stop.  Just think about it tonight.  If you want to discuss it with me tomorrow, okay.  If you want a new partner tomorrow, that's okay, too." 

 

Chapter THIRTY-TWO

September 25, 2009

Friday's here, and I just can't wait for school to be over with so I can get to therapy (sarcasm).  There's an old comedy skit where there's a guy putting up a sign for a therapist, but it's in two parts, 'The rapist'.  The doctor gets all upset about the sign so the w*rker pushes the signs together and pats the therapist on the head before walking off. 

That's how it feels, sometimes:  Like I'm stepping in to be raped again.  Don't get me wrong:  I can see the need to get this all out and sorted.  I can also see all the pain and anguish coming at me while I'm trying to get it out. 

I'm not going to discuss my sessions with you, other than to say that they happen, and they suck. 

School happens, too (and sometimes it sucks) and now I'm waiting for Scott to pick me up for the dance.  I did well on the tests that I had.  Allison and I finished the experiments (today's, and the one we botched Monday).  And people generally treated me like they usually do. 

I'm more than a little anxious about the dance tonight, though:  Scott's taking me, rather than Matt. 

Matt has a new girlfriend:  A friend of the family's (Family) daughter came to visit with her mom while the parents had some business to discuss.  Matt and Ashley got to know each other again (they used to hang out in Italy while on vacation), and Matt invited her to the dance tonight.  Sounds serious. 

Seriously.  You'd have to know Matt better than I've explained him to you to understand.  He's almost a different person now (and I just saw him three hours ago).  Something else to bring up to my therapist. 

That, and how anxious I am in trying to hide how worried I am that my parents will discover how I feel about Scott.  Right now, he's just a friend who's taking me to the dance because Matt can't.  There's nothing to worry about.  They don't know about him kissing me in the hallways, or about the lunch table cuddling.  All they know is that he's the boy I kissed before he became the boy I snuggled with and fell... asleep... with. 

I am so dead. 

There's no way this won't seem like a date.  And I'm not allowed to date.  I'm not sixteen yet, and that's the age set for me when I asked.  (I was a boy at the time, but I seriously don't think that they'd lower it because I'm a girl now)  I'm also a girl now, and I'm not supposed to be interested in boys like that. 

Dad's going to get his shotgun out and have it all oiled and cleaned when Scott gets here.  He's going to be waiting for Scott - probably sitting at the kitchen table while Mom 'talks' with me upstairs.  I wonder if I can just go on foot (flap?) and bypass the whole trouble. 

I get up to use the intercom when I see Scott's car pulling in the driveway.  "Shoot."  (I really did say 'shoot'.  Honest)  I'll just have to get out there and hope that I can get away without the worst of it happening.  I pretend not to see Mom waving to me from the upstairs window and just jump down to the sidewalk. 

Scott gets out of his car and walks up to me, grinning (I think it's a grin.  With different faces comes a new wave of facial expressions, you know?).  I smile back at him, waiting there so I won't seem to be trying to flee before Dad gets to talk to us.  Just as Scott gets to me, Dad comes out - ruining any kissing that might have happened. 

"I think Dad's going to try to warn you off," I say, giving Scott the head's up.  "He's likely to-" 

"Scott!  How have you been?  Come in for a moment, while Amy finishes getting ready."  Dad puts his arm around Scott's shoulders and leads him inside, ending all questions as to whether this was a suggestion or an order.  I follow morosely, wondering what I'll find inside. 

I am surprised to find nothing unusual waiting for us, just a couple of glasses waiting on the table as Dad waves me upstairs.  I shrug to Scott and go to find Mom. 

Mom has a nervous look, but she's trying to smile and make me feel better:  It almost w*rks.  She has some charts out (sex ed charts.  Ugh) and I can smell she's had a wine cooler.  Lovely.  I'm fourteen and a half years old, about to go to a - let's face it - nothing dance, with - okay, let's be honest again - a real hunk.  (do people say that anymore?  I mean, I just did, but do normal people say it?) 

I have to forestall this.  "Mom, I'm not planning anything, I'm on the pill, and-" 

She cuts me off, "Your father is making me do this before you go out with Scott.  Any boy, really - but he specifically mentioned Scott, so..."  She takes a deep breath.  "You've only been a girl for a short time, now.  There are many things you need to know about it, and I'm sorry I wasn't available to answer your questions before.  Let me finish, please."  I'm  about to object. 

"We like Scott - we really do - but... he's a boy.  Boys get this thing in their heads where 'you're not a man if you haven't had sex with a girl'.  I don't agree with it.  Your father doesn't agree with it.  He really didn't know anything about sex when we met," she smiled, "There was a time when we were in the theatre and he was just about to-" 

"Mom!  Ew!  No!" 

She blushes.  "Sorry.  Where was I?"  She thinks for a moment, then smiles.  "Scott may very well be a perfect gentleman, or he might try to get you used to the idea of certain activities.  We will be having a talk about this later.  I just want you to know that we love you, and that we will support you no matter what." 

She smiles a little ruefully.  "Your father also wants you to know that if Scott misbehaves with you and runs away from any resposibility, then he'll be made into a rug and we'll keep him on the couch as a reminder of what shouldn't be." 

I'm fairly certain I'm going white, even with my fur. 

Mom chuckles, "Have a good time at the dance tonight, honey." 

She helps me up (my legs are a little unsteady) and helps me get ready to go, giving me a necklace from an old jewelry box that they store up here.  I make my way downstairs, hoping that Scott won't be able to tell what Mom'd said.  He's looking a little pale, himself, so I relax a little.  'At least he won't notice me being nervous'. 

He helps me out to the car and gets me seated before getting in himself.  I notice that the seats have been changed to accomodate tails.  There is a slot in the back going up almost a foot, and sideways about half that.  I thread my tail through the hole, glad that it is prehensile (almost).  Scott's just falls into the slot as he sits down (obviously the result of practice). 

We don't say much of anything as he drives us to the school:  I comment on the seat modifications, he tells me about his cousin who'd helped him.  He's very quick getting out of the car: even leaping over it to get me out before I could get my tail out of the slot.  I cannot stop smiling as he hands me out of the passenger seat, and he returns it. 

The dance is already underway when we get there, and I'm actually glad of that.  It's usually nice to be there at the start, and I like to listen to the sound people setting up and checking the equipment.  Sometimes they'll play a non-dance song just as a test, because most dance music isn't all that musically challenging. 

Mostly, though, I just want to get inside without having to 'run the gauntlet'.  People will already be inside dancing when we step in. 

No gauntlet, and I want to just slink inside.  No dice:  Scott has a hold of my hand and is leading me directly to the floor.  I hear all these stories about how women love to dance.  Maybe I'm not fully a girl yet, or maybe I'm just not that kind of a girl:  I really don't want to be out there. 

"Don't worry:  I won't throw you, this time." 

As if that is going to make me feel better.  'I wasn't thinking about it at all until you brought it up, but now?'  He starts moving - strutting, actually - and I'm still just standing there, frozen.  I can see people start to notice us; some of them making room for us on the floor. 

I close my eyes and just will everything to slow down. 

It does

I'm sort of shocked for a moment, and my eyes fly open to see Scott's beautiful face staring at me - his mouth half open in a grin.  I start to return the smile and he pulls me into him, hugging my terror away and replacing it with a warmth in my lower belly (he still smells so good, you know?). 

I realize that I'm dancing with him, now; people are cheering and the music changes to egg us on.  Some of the other couples join in, either to compete with us or just enjoying the ride. 

I notice a few glares as we turn about, but don't really care:  I'm with Scott and all is right with the world.  We go on for a few songs, only stopping when the music picks up again (we'd had a slow dance to calm things down, but it didn't really calm me down).  He sets me by a wall and goes to get us a few drinks. 

As time rushes about to balance, I realize (sort of?) what I've been doing.  I was watching everything going slower while my body was going slower.  So...  It's sort of a balance?  I guess?  Rebalancing only takes a moment, anyways. 

I can see Sarah and Jimmy dancing a storm (Jimmy can't dance, but he does at least try), and Matt's trying to get his girl on the floor.  I remember him talking about her like she was an annoying, ugly little girl.  Either she'd changed, or he was lying.  I'm not saying that she'd beat Darla in a pageant, or anything; but she's very pretty and seems to like Matt a lot. 

I go over there to meet her - talking with a few people on the way - when I hear her whisper to Matt, "It's coming over here!  What does it want?"  Matt turns to see what she's talking about and I can see the expressions changing on his face:  The confusion, replaced by the surprise and joy at seeing me, replaced by the realization of who Ashley was talking about.  I can see anger starting to fight him for control as he starts to explain who I am to her.  She's not taking it well at all. 

So... I'm just sort of frozen there - mid-stride - when Scott finds me.  Suddenly there's a cup of punch in front of me and it sort of snaps me out of my reverie.  I blink a few times, taking the cup from him and smiling a little. 

"What the f*ck!  There's two of them?!" 

My smile fades, and I can feel a little pain trying to worm its way inside of me.  Scott stiffens, and looks over to Matt and Ashley (I was going to call them M.A.S.H.  Ah, well).  I can see him losing his battle with anger, so I grab his head and kiss him.  It was just supposed to be a little peck to distract him, but these things never end up the way I imagine them. 

Scott moves his mouth from mine, nipping up my cheek to my ears.  And that's when things get all weird on me.  I can feel his breath all the way down to my toes, and it feels great.  And this isn't anything compared to when he starts using his tongue.  It's like he plugged his tail into an outlet before touching me:  I lose all sense of everything as he starts licking me in my ear. 

I realize this when I shudder and chitter, feeling something take me over.  I feel like I just peed.  I can't stop panting and I feel it coming again.  I try to get him to stop licking my ear but...  Nghaaahh!  He finally stops, and I don't know how many times I rode the coaster.  He's grinning at me like...  I don't know.  Just grinning at me. 

And that's when he drops me.  Honestly, if my tail didn't have a death grip on him, I would have fallen on my butt, and not gotten launched sideways with him as he was punched in the head. 

My knees still can't support me, but my tail does slither back to try and protect me from the three jocks who're trying to keep Scott on the floor.  I don't know if he's got any training - but I do know that if Jimmy and Matt hadn't jumped in at that moment, that Scott would be hurting a lot more tomorrow. 

Jimmy simply grabs one of them by the head and pulls it back and down, only stopping when the boy's (Albert) head bounces off the floor.  It's a sneak attack that's not too hard to do, and it w*rks a treat on Albert:  He's out of the fight for a moment (at least). 

Matt does a quick double hit to the other's kidney, doing enough damage (temporary, I hope) to cause him (Scott, Allison's BF.  Maybe he's in football?  Soccer?) to lurch to the left, away from Scott (my BF.  Wait, what'd I just say?) 

That just leaves Scott to try and deal with Sheldon (I hear he likes to be called 'Shelly', ' 'Cause I'm so tough'.  Whatever), who is counting on the other two to keep Scott down while he kicks him.  He launches a great kick onto Scott's side and I can hear ribs cracking. 

I'm trying to get to my feet to help out, but Ashley comes over towards me with one of those self-defense click sticks in her hand.  If I had any confusion as to whether she was going to help me, she ends it pretty quick. 

"I can't believe he would choose to be friends with the likes of you, freak."  She swings the baton towards my head, which is swimming (drowning).  I manage to get my arm up, but don't angle it properly, so it hurts more than if I'd blocked correctly.  She keeps swinging, talking the whole time in a conversational tone. 

"I'm just going to have to help him realize what a dumb animal you are.  Matt needs to-!" 

I finally get my body back online, and use my tail to drag her off of me (by her head.  I'm not feeling too charitable towards her right now).  I manage to stand up just as she launches herself from the floor towards me.  Time slows way down again, and I block her arm in a gentle (it seems to me) motion and step/turn away from her - pushing/launching her with my tail as she passes. 

Mr. Klein comes roaring out of one of the hallways, followed by Mrs. Dundee (they're our chaperones, though they should probably be paying more attention to the students than to each other:  He's got lipstick smeared on his face and she needs to pull the back of her dress down).  And I do mean roaring

"What the h*ll's going on here!?!" 

Scott's being held by two girls, Allison and Megan Pearson (bassoon).  One of his eyes is closed, and he's holding his ribs on one side.  For all that, he looks like he's not feeling too badly.  Jimmy's got Sheldon held up against the wall by the throat, his other hand ready to pummel (surprisingly not that hard, once you've gotten them against something solid - like a wall).  Matt's holding the other two at bay with another of those click sticks - his is unopened - and the guys are just trying to get Jimmy to let Sheldon drop before he chokes to death. 

Ashley's put her stick away and is trying to move to the other side of the room quietly.  I ignore her and move over to Scott, who is so not trying to get up.  He's almost nuzzling Allison, rubbing his head slowly against her breasts. 

My turn to struggle with anger.  I'm trying to keep the red from swarming over my vision as he finally notices me coming over there.  He jerks his head away from Allison - grunting in pain as his head hurts a little more - and tries to get up. 

I try to not be affected by his pain, but can't hold the anger.  I help him to his feet and finally start to catch up with the conversation as people are throwing accusations around and trying to:  Get Scott lynched; get the three of them - especially Albert - expelled; keep the confusion going, hoping for another fight to break out; or sneak off with their dates. 

Matt's stick has disappeared, somehow.  He tells Jimmy that there's a teacher here.  Jimmy thinks about it for a good five seconds, then drops Sheldon in a heap and turns to face the teachers. 

Mr. Klein's patience is running out (much to the pleasure of some of the students) and he starts yelling for someone to make some sense. 

"I can tell you," Ashley.  "It started with those two," she indicates me and Scott, "making out on the dance floor.  I don't know what he was doing to her, but she seemed to like it a lot.  Those three," Scott, Sheldon, and Albert, "tried to get them to stop, and I guess they got a little out of hand.  I'm not sure who threw the first punch, but they knocked down the dog-boy, there.  Matthew and his friend tried to get them to stop, and I think that's where you came in?" 

Wow.  My mouth is open, I'm so shocked.  I close it with a way too loud 'click', and everyone turns to me.  I want to disappear, but don't want to leave Scott.  So... 

"Thank you..."  Klein. 

"...Oh!  Ashley!  I'm Ashley."  She smiles and blushes a little, making me wonder about her.  She moves over and grabs Matt's hand, and I think that this confuses him, too.  He doesn't jerk away, or anything; he just... doesn't lean in towards her, either. 

Is this chick psychotic, or just a good actress?  Scott groans a little, ripping me from my thoughts and his arm clenches a bit.  I wonder what he's feeling:  What's broken in him to cause the pain.  Nothing happens, of course.  I'm trying to help Scott get comfortable (or at least stop hurting so bad) while also trying to not look like  I'm fleeing. 

Mrs. Dundee sees us moving slowly towards a stool and rushes over to help Scott find a seat.  Mr. Klein mutters something nasty (I'm still not swearing here, so you'll have to use your imagination) and starts grilling the people who're talking to him. 

"Are you feeling all right?"  Scott shakes his head.  "Would you like an ambulance?"  Scott nods.  She pulls out her cell phone (everyone but me.  I don't want one.  Don't need one with everyone having one, mind you) and calls the hospital for an ambulance. 

Scott's hurt, but I think he's playing it up for the teacher.  I look at him and smirk a little, glad that most people can't read my furry face.  He rests his head against my chest and I feel like protesting.  I'm overruled by the rest of my body, but the thought was there. 

I'm also tempted to cradle his head against my bosom and rock him gently.  Wouldn't that be a sight:  One big furry mass slowly rocking? 

I wrap my tail around us (I'm standing next to him while he sits) and lean down to whisper, "You can stop faking so hard, she's made the call.  Save it for the paramedics." 

He shoots me a shocked look, so I smirk at him.  He smiles up at me and rubs his cheek against me.  My turn to be shocked, but for a different reason:  There's a fire growing in my belly.  A little lower, really.  I can see him reacting to my arousal, shifting a little and breathing deeply. 

This is so very not good.  I can sort of push off the effects of smelling him, but I don't know if he can do the same.  I can see him trying to fight it down, and I want to give him some space to help him (I vaguely remember what it's like to be on autopilot during this kind of thing), but I also don't want him to be unsupported here. 

I move my tail to let us see what's going on around us, and the fresh(ish) air helps a bit.  Fear and fresh air:  Who'd have thought it would boil down to that?  I use the distance to get some more, hoping to continue the clarity I'd just found.  He helps out by leaning a little away from me, then a little more as his mind clears too. 

Mr. Klein's finished his other discussions by now, and he turns towards us - trying to hide his look of distaste.  I'm starting to feel a little scared, but Scott's hand grips mine - quieting the new fear. 

"What happened?  Why is the dance in chaos?  What am I supposed to do with all you reprobates?  Why aren't you answering?  Wh-"  He stops as Mrs. Dundee places her hand on his arm. 

"Let them speak, Carl."  She smiles over at us, helping us to calm down.  And I, at least, need to.  Scott speaks right up - no hesitation or anything.  I think that's one of those techniques in those books on speech that people rave about.  I don't like that there's tricks to make you seem like you're not only trustworthy, but actually telling the truth.  I don't use any of the ones I know about, which leads people to trust me less than others.  Even though I usually tell the truth.  Oh, well. 

"We'd just finished a dance, and I was feeling a bit... pumped... so I guess we were kind of making out," insert sheepish grin, mixed with a little pain.  "The boys didn't like that I was getting farther than they were, I guess: because that's when they decided to knock me down and kick me in the ribs."  (also the face a bit, but...) 

An explosion of sound - which lasts for a bare moment - then: 

"He was scamming on my girl, and then he starts making it with the other freak?  I had to stop it!"  Sheldon. 

"I saw Sheldon moving towards dogboy and moved to help him."  Albert. 

"I was keeping that freak away from Allison."  Scott. 

"Fine.  You're all suspended for a week.  You two," us, "for PDA.  You five," the others, "for fighting.  Go home now, I'll have Mr. Erin call your parents to let them know.  Get!"  He proceeded to ignore us, walking towards the DJ club. 

Everyone slowly starts to move again: Most going to the doors, some of them grouping up and talking. 

What is with me this year?  I can't seem to stay in school!  I start to wonder if I've spent more time out of school this year than in it. 

"Yeah, this year's been a little crazy for me, too."  Scott. 

"Was I just talking out loud?"  He nods, smiling.  "I need to stop doing that." 

He hugs me, wincing a little as I return it.  "Don't stop talking, please.  I like to hear you babbling at me."  He keeps me from jerking myself away from him and I can feel him chuckling.  "You are so easy.  If I'd have known..." 

He starts going for my ear again and I have to stop it.  I climb up and start on his ear: 'We'll just see how you like it.'  He does seem to like it - nothing close to my reaction, but at least it's something.  I very carefully start to nibble on his neck and he goes still.  I'm hoping it's from what I'm doing and not from what he's afraid I'm doing. 

I can smell him starting back up again - and I know that I should stop this and give us a breather - but I'm getting addicted to the whole control of it, you know?  For once, I've got some control over something:  I can make Scott happy. 

I'm actually making Scott too happy, though.  I can feel something growing under me, and it scares me (it also does some wonderfully warming things to my lower abdomen, but we need to concentrate on the fear, here).  I'm trying to disengage from him gracefully, but he's not having any of it. 

The only reason I get away is because of my patagia.  (See!  They're good for something else, too)  since I have them, Scott can't get his hands around my waist. he has to try to hold me down over my shoulders.  I can (and do) still slither out from under that. 

He does manage to hold my tunic, however.  I stand up and he's still got my clothes (not my underwear, just the tunic).  No one seems to have noticed, yet, but... 

I freeze time and yank it away from him, then whip it on over my head.  Time revs back up, and I hear Scott cursing as he tries to get up.  His ribs are really not up for this, and people come back around to check on him.  I'm finally able to move again and I try to help him without touching him. 

Which w*rks about as well as you'd think it does.  A few people jump right in, Allison glaring at me as she shoves me aside to get to him.  I'm frozen for a moment, but then it's a little late: I can hear the ambulance pulling up to the school.  I'm trying to get past the other girls and help, but they're trying just as hard to keep me out. 

I'm not trying to hurt anyone, and Scott's in reasonably good hands so I back off.  Matt and Jimmy are waiting out back (the 'front' is hardly ever used, students park in the back lot) with Sarah and Julia. 

"We're going to take Julia home.  Did you want to get back together after this?"  Sarah.  She's holding Jimmy's hand a little tight, like he's a life preserver and she's drowning. 

"...." 

I'm standing there with my mouth open, trying to speak and wondering why nothing's coming out.  I can feel the panic rising, taking over my body and locking it up.  I'm still trying to figure out why I can't move when the enormity of what's just happened comes crashing down on me. 

Scott was just taken away in an ambulance after a fight that took place in the school.  A part of my brain is thinking that stuff like this has happened before, and that Scott was just fine when he left.  It is immediately swamped by the rest of me needing to go to the hospital and make sure that he's all right. 

Add to that my involvement in the fight - and Ashley still clinging to Matt doesn't help much - and I can't keep myself from shaking.  I collapse in a furry heap and make a chittering sort of keen.  I know that it's not going to help anything - I know it - but I still can't stop.  Everyone (even Ashley) comes right in and hugs me, saying those stupid little things that everyone tries when in this situation. 

The words wash right over me, but the hugs help.  A few minutes later, I'm finally able to stand up on my own.  "Thank you, everyone.  I need to get home and tell my parents what happened," my face scrunches up, "and that I'm suspended for PDA.  Dad's going to kill me." 

Sympathetic noises from everyone,

"You need a ride home?" Matt. 

He doesn't notice Ashey's glaring daggers between the two of us, and if I weren't in such a hurry to get to Scott, I'd likely pick at Ashley a little.  "Nope.  I really need to move.  Sorry.  Later." 

I take off.  A few running steps, and I take to the air, pausing on the lightpost to shred my tunic.  From there I make it all the way off the school grounds, scampering a few steps before I jump again.  I make it home almost as quickly as if I'd taken a car ride, and I know that I'm going to have to pay for that sooner or later. 

But right now, I need to get ready to go to the hospital and report to my parents.  Joy.  I get another set of clothes from my room and a satchel to hold them while I'm flying.  Then it's over to the main house to find Mom and Dad. 

I stop just a few steps inside:  My ears are good enough to hear them... being busy.  Together.  Oorgh.  I understand that it's a good thing for them to still feel like this for each other - I really do - but I don't need to hear it happening.  It's just... squicky. 

I scribble a hasty note to explain things before heading out.  I know roughly where I'm going, but it's a different journey on foot.  Even more different (differenter?) scampering there.  I don't get lost (the terrain makes it easy, if you know what to look for), but it takes some concentration.  Bonus for me, because I really need to be distracted from my thoughts just now. 

I get to the hospital and then just stop:  I don't know how to get to see Scott.  I'm not family, and we haven't really been on a date yet.  One dance doesn't really count, I'm thinking.  I go through some mental acrobatics, trying to come up with a ninja plan of entry (seriously, who goes through the air ducts?) when I notice people just walking in. 

I smack myself mentally.  'This isn't exactly high security, you know.'  I get dressed and walk into the hospital like nothing's wrong with anyone at all. 

I stop at the desk and ask where Scott's room is.  A nurse walking by notices me getting turned away by the receptionist and collects me, telling the desk w*rker that she'll take me through. 

"Thank you so much for this, I just rushed over without thinking about much of anything and I didn't even have a plan for what to do if this didn't w*rk, you know?  I just got my stuff together and flew on down here hopi -  You didn't know I could fly?  I have these wing flaps called patagia - I had to look it up but that's what they're called on real flying squirrels which don't really fly but glide but 'gliding squirrel' just doesn't have the same ring that 'flying squirrel' does oh my gosh I'm totally pulling a Julia right now and I don't know if I can stop I supposeI'llstopwhenIpassout..." 

Things go all dizzy on me for a moment as I try to catch my breath. It only takes a minute for everything to stop going gray and spinning around, so I can't be too bad, can I?  Nurse Watson (nametag) is flapping air into my face with one of those manilla folders, and saying my (old) name over and over. 

"Eric?  Eric?  Are you okay?  Should I get some oxygen?  You all right now?  Good." 

It's so nice to have caring professionals to help out when you're down.  I nod to her and we continue on our way.  "It's Amy, now.  They had it changed a few months ago."  She nods to me as we walk into an elevator. 

She takes out her keys and inserts one into the lock under the panel and turns it.  "We have him recuperating in the secure room in the basement.  We've had a few irate people calling us about treating that 'animal'," she uses air quotes, "so we thought it would be best for him to be down here where he couldn't be bothered,"  She touches my arm, "I'm so glad you're here.  He's been in a terrible state since we called his parents." 

She looks around (must be a habit, because we're in an elevator) and leans in.  "His father seemed very nice, but his mother - UGH! - I don't understand how a woman can be like that towards her own son!"  The doors open and we get out. 

*

Scott

I am such an idiot!  How could I mess around on Amy?  With Amy right there!  'No, Idiot!  Go ahead and feel up the other girls!  Your girlfriend won't mind.'  Gah. 

I deserve this murse talking to me right now:  I just wish he'd smack me around for being stupid.  *sigh* 

Heh.  Something else to thank Amy for:  Now I know how to sigh.  Who'd have thought there was a right way to do it? 

Calling my parents - of course they had to call my parents.  *sigh*  Dad tried to show care and concern, but mom?  Mom told them to let me just die and get it over with.  They've been nice about not mentioning it, probably hoping that I couldn't hear her saying it.  These ears work a little too well for that, though. 

All those people who get up to accept awards and such, then make sure to thank their parents?  Those people really crack me up. 

My life was fine - I guess - before I caught this damn virus.  Jules has it, and they seem okay wth her.  Is it just that I look like our dog, Samson?  So I catch this damn virus, and now I'm fucked? 

Amy's had this fucking thing all year and her parents couldn't love her more!  What the fuck!  Are my parents that fucked up that they don't know how to deal with anything? 

*sigh*  And then I go and mess things up with the one thing I have that's still going good. 

Well.  Amy and my car.  'Thanks, Kyle.' 

*

The basement (sub-basement?) has a few rooms used mostly for storage, and two for patients with 'special needs'.  I'd been down here because they didn't know if I was contagious or not.  I guess Scott was brought down here because this was now the 'MORFS' (see, I told you I'd get on board) room, and most everything they'd need for a CHANGE (mostly) was already down here. 

I heard Calvin talking to someone, and he seemed uber-positive - so I knew he was talking to Scott.  Scott wasn't saying anything, mind you.  I just figured it out by Cal being assigned to my case, I'm really not all that clever.  Nurse Watson would not have brought me down here to see Scott and not have Scott be here.  It would be insanely cruel of her to do this and they'd have to have some sort of elaborate scheme going on with people impersonating other people (and their scents) just so that I'd be captured by all sorts of nasty government people to do horrible things to me and I think I'm hyperventilating. 

I stop for a moment and get my breathing under control.  Nurse Watson (I think her name might be Jaqueline?  My record is so bad of late that I really shouldn't assign people monikers until I'm sure of what their name actually is.  Or if I'm just calling them something as a placeholder.  Or just being mean, but I really shouldn't do that.  Sorry, Lord) directs me to the open door.  I would have known anyways, 'cause I can hear them. 

I turn the corner to see the most wonderful, pitiful sight I've seen in a while.  Scott's sitting up in bed, and refusing to engage Cal in conversation at all.  Calvin's doing his level best to get Scott involved in something, no matter how stupid it may seem.  Neither of them notice us. 

"Tell him that cats are a superior animal in most every way to a dog." 

They both whip their heads over to me as Jaqi (I'm going with it for now: it's not like she's going to know) leaves us alone.  Calvin's face lights up as he sees me.  He moves over to give me a hug, lifting me off my feet like it's been years since we've seen each other.  (That's the way to make someone feel special:  An enthusiastic hug) 

"Stop scamming my girl!"  Scott.  He's trying to make like he's not jealous trying to make like he is jealous.  Scott's complicated.  Okay, not really.  It's a guy thing to make fun of something that's bothering you.  Trust me:  I was a guy for a while.  (I'm all better now, though) 

Calvin drops me like I'm on fire and whips his hands up and away, comically making his face do that 'Who?  Me?' thing.  I'm chuckling as I wander over to where Scott is.  He's got bandages around his chest, and they shaved his face on the left side to do the stitching.  Cute little butterfly tabs over the sutures, though. 

I'm fighting a desire to lick the stitches so I don't noice him slipping his hand into mine until he's got it up to his nose and just inhales my scent.  I've not been a hybrid squirel for all that long, and I've never yet been involved in a romance.  But I have this desire to ask Calvin if Scott's been okayed for any nocturnal activities. 

I'm fighting it off and trying to get some distance from him while he's trying to pull me closer and licking my fingers.  I hope that this is something that other girls go through, too:  I don't want to be seen as so pathetic that all it takes is someone putting their tongue on me to make me all compliant.  That so didn't come out the way I'd planned it. 

I don't want to hurt him by forcing my hand free (I do think I'm stronger than him, though.  Weird) so I let myself be captured.  He tugs me all the way into bed with him, and I have a panicked moment where I turn to look for Calvin (to see if he's watching this or ask for help:  I'm really not sure), but they're gone already. 

I am really thankful that Scott's got busted ribs: I'm snapped back to reality by him gasping as my leg rubs against his bandages.  On its way over.  So I could straddle Scott.  I'm off of him so fast that the wind almost knocks the I.V. stand over. 

I snag a chair with my tail (it's tail-friendly, too) and sit well out of range of Scott's hands.  He grouses at me, but is amiable enough as I start to talk to him about... everything. 

I seriously don't know how long I'm talking with him before he starts yawning and struggling to stay awake.  I look around for Calvin - anyone, really - and discover that the elevator needs a key to operate. 

It makes sense, naturally.  I was just kind of hoping that I could slip out and go home.   No dice.  The other room (my old room) is occupied by some sort of snake hybrid.  My instincts tell me to hate him and kill him while he's asleep.  I tell my instincts to knock it off and toddle off back to Scott's bed.  I think about just crashing on the floor, but only for a moment. 

Scott slides himself over a bit without waking at all (I wonder where that behavior was programmed in) and I just curl up with him and drop off.  His scent makes me feel all safe and snuggly.  He wraps his arm around me and squeezes me gently/firmly. 

I then *sigh* and get out of bed (it takes a minute.  Scott is comfortable) to look for the phone so I can call my Mom and let her know where I am.  The phone has all sorts of buttons on it, but not one of them is labeled 'out', so I just push '9': like they do in the movies.  Don't laugh - it gets me to the main desk. 

"Whatcha need Cal?  You're not Calvin - Calvin's right here talking with Debbie.  Who is this?"  The receptionist (third shift) is starting to get angry/annoyed at me and I think I'd better calm her down. 

"Hi!  I'm Amy.  Amy Robinson?  I was a customer - uhm, a... cr*p!  A patient!   Yeah!  I was here back in March?  January to March, anyways.  I came in to see Scott, and we've been talking for a while - I don't really know how long - and I was wondering if I could have an outside line?  I need to call my parents and let them know that I'm trapped down here and that I'll be home later on Saturday.  Which is probably today, come to think of it.  Anyways, Cal left us alone to talk - talk talk - and I don't have a key to get out, so I'm probably going to have to stay here until he comes back down in the morning?  Please don't tell me that it's morning already?  My Dad will absolutely kill Scott if I've been here all night without calling first!  I -" 

"Hold, please."  The receptionist cuts me off and places me on hold.  There's even the silly 'music, and stuff going on at the hospital' track going on for a moment.  The line clicks over twice, and I get a dial tone: I call home. 

"Amy!?"  I guess Mom's been waiting up for this call.  I feel bad about losing track of time.  "Where are you!?  Are you all right!?  Do you need a ride!?"  I can hear Dad getting up in the background - I can even tell that they're in their room at the house.  Super hearing is a pretty cool power. 

"Mom!  I'm okay, I'm just at the hospital to see Scott.  Did you get my note?  Okay, so you know I've been suspended for - I didn't tell you abou - Mom!  Let me tell you!  Scott and I kissed a little at the dance and we got suspended for a week for PDA...  Yes!  I think a week's suspension is a bit much for some kissing, too!  No!  Well... he was kind of licking my ear, too.  I couldn't stop him!  I didn't really want too, either.  Yeah.  That happens to you, too?  Great!  I mean, not so great that it happened, but it's nice to know that I'm not too much of a freak, you know?  No -  No!  I don't -  Mom, I -  Mom!  Hi!  I was just calling to tell you where I was and that I'm trapped in here until someone lets me out in the morning, bec-  No, I don't think so.  I'm using the phone to keep you from worrying abou-  No, I called the receptionist to get an -  Yeah.  *facepalm*  No.  I didn't think of that.  Yes, I know that I'm stupid sometimes.  I'll ask them to let me out.  See you tomorrow.  Later today, I mean.  You get some sleep.  I'll be all right.  The air will keep me awake.  Squirrels are nocturnal, you know!  Seriously!?  Five!?  Okay, I'll be home in maybe twenty?  Okay.  I love you!  Bye." 

I sigh.  I am such a ditz sometimes.  I *sigh* again, then push '9'. 

"Yeessss?"  Calvin. 

"I am well aware that I'm stupid.  Could you please come get me, or at least send the elevator?" 

"Are you sure you don't want to spend the night?  You two looked pretty chummy.  Good Christian girls like you are trustworthy enough that I don't have to worry about his stitches, right?"  I can tell that he's having a blast. 

"My parents would like me home so they don't have to kill Scott.  I like Scott a little, so I'd kind of like him to still be around, with all his body parts intact.  Yes!  ALL of them, you perv!"  Cal really knows how to push my buttons.  Must be why I like him.  I don't know where it comes from, but - 'Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer', is known to me.  I think Cal's a friend, mind you.  Still... 

The elevator door opens up.  I go to Scott and kiss him lightly.  He tries - sleepily - to grab me and pull me back in.  I evade (not that hard, really.  Harder to force myself to evade than to actually do it.  Evade, that is)  and get into the elevator as the doors are closing. 

Calvin's smiling face is what I see as the doors open again.  I can't help but to smile, too.  "Thanks bunches, Cal!"  I hug him tightly, tail and all, until he relents and begs me to let him go.  I do, causing him to turn around once for fun.  He's still laughing as I'm walking out the door. 

"Wait!!"  I turn quickly (maybe too quickly: Nurse Watson's not moving for a moment when I turn around.  I 'unclench' and time returns to normal.  She stops for a second (probaly because she didn't see me turn around) and then rushes over. 

"I saw you hugging Calvin, and I was wondering...?" 

I laugh, and give her a hug, too - tail and all.  She sighs and rubs her face in it happily.  Some people have the weirdest triggers.  Anything to make Scott's nurse happy, though. 

"Better?" 

"Much.  Thank you.  I'm not allowed pets in my building, so I can't get any fur cravings taken care of.  Wow!  This is soft on the underside!  Have you noticed -?  Sorry.  But it's real soft, too.  You take care of you, and we'll take care of Mr. Landers.  Deal?" 

I nod, smiling.  I wave to her as I take off.  I turn to look at her from the top of the hospital, and she is still staring at me.  I imagine that that's what it'd be like if superman took off from next to you.  I strip down and stash my clothes in the ditty bag I'd brought, then launch for home. 

The sun's just thinking about coming up when I get back to my room.  I finish stripping and get into bed.  I have some naughty thoughts about Scott, and how I smell like him.  I know that I'm going to pay for not showering him off of me, but I want these dreams tonight. 

*

Scott

I wake up and she's gone.  My new nose is good for telling me that she'd actually been here, though.  Not just a dream. 

"Nope!  She was here, all right!"  Watson is entirely too perky, right now.  And I'm talking when I think I'm thinking.  Huh.  At least I'm thinking.  "How're you feeling?"  She leans in, and I can smell Amy on her (just superficial, and I'm wondering how I know what that means). 

"Amy hugged you, right?"  Beaming nod, "You smell a little like her.  I wonder how good her nose is?" 

"Good enough to know if you're cheatin' on her, I'll bet!"  Seriously?  Not everything's an exclamation point, honey.  "I need to check your dressings before I'm off shift.  Okay?" 

She doesn't wait for me to nod, just whips the blankets off of me and leans over my chest to get at my face.  My new body has some... odd differences from my old one.  Like - oh, let's just pick something - my penis

Ordinarily, having an attractive nurse leaning over me to carefully change the bandages on my face would be the stuff of dreams.  And those dreams are causing the new 'little Scott' to come out and play.  I'm a bit bigger now (even though I'm smaller), and there's a bulge down towards the base. 

I'd not taken the time to get reacquainted with myself since I'd gotten MORFS (lay off!  I've been busy), and my new equipment comes as kind of a shock.  I guess I'll need to google dog genitalia and try to not get caught.  That sort of thing gets a guy beaten up.  Ha.  Ha. 

She just smirks and pulls the sheet up to cover me again, and goes about her business.  Her oddly clinical way of dealing with my... exposure... is to talk about it.  A lot

Like I really want to know about how big the biggest penis she'd ever seen was!  Okay, yeah:  I'm sort of happy that mine's number two.  But still

I'd just about convinced little Scott to lie down and go to sleep, when she flicks him- me with her finger before swaying out the door. 

Like that's going to help me sleep. 

Man!  I miss Amy already. 

*sigh*

 

Chapter THIRTY-THREE

September 26, 2009

Okay, I really liked my dreams last night.  I need to air my room out - and take a long cool shower - but the dreams were really nice.  I need to take a bit to center myself before starting my day (not to mention going to see Scott again) so I don't bleed this around to everyone. 

It'd only lasted a moment, but laying down with him last night (this morning?) was great.  One of those memories that last, you know?  I find myself humming and skipping around my room and I need to stop doing that.  Mom will think about all the things that absolutely did not happen, and draw the wrong conclusions. 

To say nothing of how Dad will spend his afternoon. 

Mom's got lunch almost off the table by the time I arrive.  I manage to snag a sandwich before she shoos me out of the kitchen.  It's nice to be able to lounge inside the house and watch television while I'm eating.  It had always (well, since March) been:  'Grab your food and go to your room'. 

"What's this about your being suspended?  And does PDA mean the same thing it used to mean?"  Dad was obviously waiting for me to finish eating before springing at me.  He's trying to act all calm, but I can tell it's an act.  That does the almost complete opposite of calming me. 

I try to swallow the lump in my throat, "Public Display of Affection.  I was - sort of - snogging Scott at the dance last night?  Was it really last night?  Everything seems so -" 

"They suspended you for kissing?  I could easily see a Saturday, or something.  But suspended for a week?" 

I'm rapidly becoming pleasantly surprised at not being killed by Dad.  I'm not out of the woods yet, not by any means.  But I'm still alive.  Nice. 

"You are grounded, I don't want to forget to tell you.  And no going to see Scott for a month, after he's out of the hospital.  You can tell him later when you go see him.  I'm going to have to call the school about this, though.  Suspended!"  He trails off as he goes outside to the shop. 

I look at Mom, trying to gauge her mood about all of this.  She just shrugs at me and turns to do the dishes.  I want to help, but I either get fur on all of the wet dishes, or my nails (claws) tear holes in the rubber gloves.  My contribution is to eat as simply, and non messily as possible. 

I'd offered to do some dusting, but my tail left more hairs than the dust I was collecting.  I can't tolerate the sound of the vacuum, so... no.  No one wants to eat fur (no matter how 'chewy' it might be) so I'm not allowed to cook. 

I keep my room as neat as I can, so that Mom won't have to come in and clean it.  Side effect is having more privacy, but I don't have all that much to hide.  Benefits of a (almost) clean life, I guess.  All my privacy is in my head. 

I putter around for a few hours, calling Jimmy and then Matt to see what's happening.  Matt's out with Ashley, though his father had gotten his sentence reduced to three days: On account of his ending a beating that the chaperones had missed because they were absent

Jimmy's all set to enjoy his freedom, and is spending time with Sarah.  I'll have to call him back:  After talking with Matt's Dad, I see that lawyers can help even in the school system.  So he can try to get his sentence reduced. 

I feel good about them being able to go back to school earlier, but I'm still a little bummed about my own absence to be.  I ask Mom if she needs anything before I go to the hospital and she puts together a care package for Scott.  It's nice to think of having a picnic - even if it is in the hospital. 

Dad's not doing anything other than ruining a corner stand (he makes furniture to calm down) so he takes me and the basket to the hospital.  I wave him off and walk in, hoping that my plan will be okay with hospital policy. 

Calvin's not here, neither is Jaqi, so I'm forced to try and explain myself to the receptionist.  She's nice enough to let me past, and even arranges for me to ride down to see Scott.  I still don't have my own key for the elevator, so I'll have to ring someone for an exit.  I guess I can ive with that. 

Scott's talking to someone as I get off the elevator.  Whoever it is is interrupted by Scott's exclamation of: "Food!!"  I continue around the corner to see him talking with snake-boy.  He smells familiar, somehow, but my eyes are on Scott.  He seems very happy to see me. 

And the basket. 

Mostly the basket. 

I sigh, and put the basket down where he can reach it.  He almost howls as he tears into it, throwing away anything remotely healthy and devouring everything else.  I'm slightly amused until I notice the guy he was talking to. 

*

William Lucas

What are the fucking odds?  My new 'friend' in the MORFS wing has a girlfriend:  The same fucking girl-squirrel-thing that got me into this in the first place. 

The doctor told me that something in her bite on my leg gave me the stupid MORFS virus in the first place.  I wasn't the one fucking raping her, I was just the one that got bit.  Kind of like rabies, he'd said. 

Except you can get rid of rabies. 

I started out normal, hanging out with Jerry (Phil and Terry being full on rapists, they got different treatment) when I got sick.  I mean sick.  I couldn't keep anything down for days, and they were taking me to the hospital (under heavy guard) so I could get checked out. 

Turns out that the doc here is an expert on this MORFS thing, whatever it is.  He says that she'd been one of the first victims, caught it at the New York airport, or something.  She'd been in half a year before, as a dude, to get treated for rabies he'd gotten from a squirrel. 

Dumb fucking luck. 

This is what I get for trying to get Terry off of her. 

Man, she looks pissed

*

Snake-boy's glaring at me and trying not to shrink away backwards at the same time.  I frown at him and step in, trying to get a scent off him.  His eyes widen and he backpedals quickly, but not before I get a whiff. 

It takes me a moment to place him, but then my eyes widen.  Then they narrow. 

"YOU!"  One of the people who'd assaulted me back at the clinic.  He tries to get away from me, but he's on the other side of the bed from the door, and in way too much of a panic to try to flee rationally.  He just scrunches down in a corner and keeps his eyes on me. 

Scott's ignoring both of us, concentrating on the food I'd brought.  My tail's lashing about, fully puffed up and threatening to take out Scott's I.V. stand.  I try to calm down as I walk over to the phone. 

"Are you ready to go already, sweetie?"  I guess that there's caller I.D. on the phone (makes sense, I guess.  Probably why it surprises me:  Things don't often make that much sense).  It still takes me a minute to get my voice under control. 

"Why is there a criminal in here with my boyfriend?"  I'm surprised at how calm my voice is, given my emotional state right now.  I'm still staring at SB, and I can see that he's getting agitated at not being able to get by me.  (I'm not blocking him, but he's a little too freaked out about me to try and get by) 

"A crimin-  Isn't there a police officer down there with him?  There's supposed to be someone with him at all times!  Where's the officer?"  An alarm starts to sound and SB (sorry, Snake Boy) starts to freak out a little.  I can tell he'd like to get past me back to his room, but he's too afraid of me to make the move. 

I'm thinking about moving away so he can leave (it's what I want, but he's going to try to pretend he was never over here.  I don't really care, but the deception bothers me for some reason), when he spits at me. 

I don't think he was trying to spit at me - the shocked look on his face and his hands flying to his mouth speak to that - but some of the fluid is going for my eyes, and I can't have that.  Time does it's slow-to-stop thingee, and I step aside.  It goes back to normal and then does its speed-up-to-balance routine. 

I come back to SB trying to get my attention (not that he's moved any closer) and the elevator 'ding'ing.  Three police officers come pouring out of the cage in a hurry and SB actually calls out to them so they know where he is (and isn't). 

I shake my head and move a little closer to Scott, who's finally figured out that there's a problem.  Everything's happened so fast, that I can't really blame him for missing it.  I can (and do) blame him for ignoring me for a basket of - okay, really amazing food after a day or so of hospital cuisine. 

Okay, Scott:  You get a pass on this one, too. 

He seems okay, and whatever it was thet SB spit at me doesn't seem to have hit him at all. 

"Something happen?  What are the cops here for?  What -" 

I stop him.  "Snake boy is a criminal, did you know?  His handler is probably wondering what's happening, too."  I decide not to mention the spitting thing to Scott.  He's already looking a little shocky, now that he knows how close he came to a criminal.  He shakes it off pretty quickly while I talk to an officer. 

I recognize him from my earlier encounter with the police, but can't recall his name.  He recognizes me, too (wonder how), and motions me over to talk to him.  I smile at him and go on over.  Scott holds onto my tail (for fun, and it's not like it isn't long enough) and makes a big deal out of sniffing it. 

Hospital personnel are coming in now to assess the situation, and see if anyone needs anything medical.  Officer Wilks (nametag) asks me how I knew SB was a criminal, and if he'd identified himself (SB, not Wilks). 

"I recognized his smell:  He's one of the ones at my... assault... a little while ago.  I thought he'd be in jail for that?  Why's he even here?" 

"He came down with this MORFS thing, and the facilities medical center isn't really set up to handle this.  Besides, Dr. Hobbes and his crew are the closest things to experts we can find anywhere around here.   I hear he's gotten yanked to New York for a conference , or something.  Anyways, Lucas will be shipped back shortly, as soon as the doc clears him.  We don't want to ship someone dangerous to general population.  Imagine if..." 

I stop listening to him, focusing on that 'shipping someone dangerous' part.  I don't know if I should mention the spitting thing to the cops.  It could be dangerous (it could just be spit, too), and they should know.  I nod my head and get ready to tell Wilks about it when everything goes all wonky again. 

"... I'm telling you that I spat something at her and I don't know what it was, just that it streamed..."  Lucas (SB). 

"Let's get you back to your room until the detective needs to speak to you, okay?" police officer #1. 

"Just kill them all, I'm telling you - say what you want about them, the Germans knew how to..." orderly #1. 

"Preaching to the choir, brother.  Preaching to the choir." orderly #2. 

"Cal, can you handle this, I got a call to make to- "  Dr. Hobbes?  Where is he

I whip around to see SB pointing to the wall where I was standing before, trying to get the officer to listen to him.  An orderly (#2, I think) is moving over there and getting set up to wipe the wall. 

One of the officers calls out to the orderly to stop cleaning anything until the detective says it's okay.  The orderly gets a look on his face but nods, so the officer turns back to 'escorting' Lucas to his room.  The orderly then swipes the wall once with his cloth and starts to move away.  I say, 'starts', because that's all the farther he gets. 

He makes this, 'HGURK!' sort of sound and falls over with his muscles all tense and locked up.  People start to shout and run over to him, trying to help.  The officers struggle to keep Lucas away from the orderly, but he's really trying to get over there. 

"Let me go!  I can stop this, I think!  Let!  Me!  GO!!"  He wrenches himself away from them, stumbling with his new freedom and knocking Calvin away from the orderly (John or something, I hear #1 shouting). 

SB leans over the orderly and sniffs him, even licking his hand a little to get a better scent off of him.  A glow starts up under Lucas' skin as he leans over the the orderly and drops some saliva over his hand (which is a little blackened) before moving up to his mouth.  I'd be repulsed but for two things:  The orderly's hand starts to clear (yes, that fast), and two pistols opening up on Lucas. 

The shots explode in the small concrete room, shattering my eardrums and causing me to almost pass out.  I can see the detective trying to stop the officers from shooting, but one of them hit Lucas in the head. 

The detective just stops and lowers his hands, resignedly.  The shots start back up as the orderly tries to get back up (from the cops position, it probably looked like Lucas was trying to get up), and he shouts and falls back to the floor.  Officer #1 grabs the pistol from officer #2 and slams him up against the wall as Wilks moves over with his gun out and pointed at officer #2. 

This is what I notice as I'm flying through the air to land with Scott (who rolls over to shield me with his body.  It may come late, but it's there).  I'm glad he still had a hold on my tail because I hadn't been tracking well at all.  My tail will likely want to smack him around in a bit, but right now I'm really happy Scott was there. 

Scott does a nice job of distracting me with low sounds and quiet nuzzling while I'm just clinging to him and shivering.  Why is this so different?  I've been in fights before, and had a shotgun fired at me.  But I just can not handle this. 

I come back to myself (actually have to be woken up) with Wilks wanting to question us about what's happened.  Scott provides most of the exposition as I'm still very out of it.  They've cleaned up a bit, and removed the body of Lucas, but I'm still locked in that state. 

I snap out of it when Wilks claps his hands in front of my face, jerking myself back until Scott holds me secure.  "Do you have anything to add, Ms. Robinson?"  I'm trying to recall anything that he'd said so I don't look... like I do. 

"I came down to have a... sort of picnic... with Scott.  I saw the Sna- Lucas?" Wilks nods, "Lucas sitting with Scott and keeping him company.  It was okay until I caught his... scent... and I knew who he was."  Scott started a bit at this, but I plowed on, "So I called the desk to see if there was supposed to be someone with him, or if he was okay to be alone.  Or whatever." 

I felt so bad that I'd been the cause of that man's death.  If I hadn't made a big deal about it, he'd...  I don't know what he'd done other than my assault - and stufff - but he didn't need to die like that.  I hope that God allows how he died to factor in, and that he's not just held by what he's confessed and gotten absolved for. 

"She sounded the alarm, and people came down to deal with... him.  Oh!  He'd spat something at me, I think he didn't mean to do it, but he wasn't used to what he could do, or something like that.  I got out of the way, and it hit the wall behind me: I think that that's what the orderly person touched on the wall after the officer told him to leave it alone.  I think he was just trying to save that guy's life from what he'd not meant to do at all and the officers thought he  was trying to hurt the orderly which is why they shot him so manytimesthathe'sdeadandWHYDIDN'TSOMEONESTOPHIMFROMDYINGIT'SSOSADHOW-" 

I'm sobbing into Scott's arms now, and trying to catch ahold of myself.  Detective Wilks just sits there - and I wonder if he's instructed to not do anything, or if he just doesn't know what to do.  He eventually just gets up and walks away. 

Scott keeps holding me, and squeezing me tight.  I don't know how long it takes, but I do eventually get tired of being a crying mess and settle down.  I look up at him and he smiles down at me.  I smile back. 

"Did you leave me anything to eat?"  I'm hungry.  Why am I hungry? 

He chuckles, and looks a little guilty.  "I don't know.  There were a few things that I didn't want, so those should be around here somewhere, right?" 

I laugh with him, and then lean up and kiss him:  Just a little kiss.  To start.  I start kissing him a bit more seriously - he's not complaining - and crawl up him a little to get better access to his mouth.  He tries to help me up but... patagia. 

So his hands slide off of my wings and catch a bit on my arms, helping me up.  I'm sitting on him and focusing on kissing him (it's a serious job that I don't want to mess up) when I feel his hands on my boobs. 

His hands have to go somewhere, and my patagia don't leave a whole lot of room for variations.  I'm shocked, a little, but he's not stopping or slowing down or anything, so I just ride with it. 

That might not have been the wisest of decisions I've ever made. 

I can feel the tide rising in me, washing away everything in its path:  Fear, propriety, doubt, shame.  It's just about cresting the top when the elevator *dings*, announcing an arrival. 

We stop.  He still has his hands on my breasts and I'm still trying to get nectar out of his ears.  The only sound is this heavy panting coming from somewhere.  Okay, the panting is both Scott and I, and there are footsteps closing in on Scott's room (which doesn't have the door closed). 

I panic and jump up off of Scott.  I don't even realize that I've stopped time until I see that I've been waiting by the door with the basket packed and trying to look all innocent.  For almost ten seconds (my count).  Oops. 

Everything does its (becoming familiar) rush to catch up with me, and I see the nurse (Jaqi) checking on Scott and asking him where I was.  I clear my throat (once again glad that my blushing is imperceptable to most people. 

Jaqi spins around and smiles at me, "Sorry I missed you standing there!  Why aren't you over here with this gorgeous hunk of male?" 

I smile a little and step over, "I was just going to leave:  Things got a little weird and I guess I'm a little spooked." 

She steps in and hugs me tight; it makes things better (maybe not as better as if Scott were hugging me, but definitely safer).  She pulls back to arms length, "You take care of yourself, things should be better now that the craziness is over.  It's a shame about the other guy - even if he was a criminal, he was nice.  He was reforming, d*mnit!" 

This time, I'm the one stepping in while she starts crying.  Her tears spark my own:  The tears I couldn't seem to cry for Lucas just because he was involved in my ra-...  I still can't just say it:  My Rape.  There. 

Scott grunts and gets up to hug us both.  Jaqi squirms a little and tells him to get back to bed: "You're still hurt!  You need to be lying down and recuperating!"  I can't help but giggle. 

"I was resting!  I was just lying here and minding my own business until this one," he pauses to lick my ear (and it still w*rks), "came and started trying to clean my ears with her tongue."  I stilled my giggles. 

"Oh, ho!  Is that what I was interrupting?  What do you have to say for yourself, Ms. Robinson?"  I know she's just picking on me - I can smell how amused she is about the whole thing.  None of that stops my mortification, mind you. 

She continues: "You were trying to make some time with this furry lump?  You can do much better than him,"  Scott seems apoplectic now, trying to defend himself and make himself look like a better prospect.  Jaqi rolls right over him, "Besides: he'll be unavailable for the forseeable future.  He's got a full w*rk up of antibiotics ahead of him, and another day or so until Dr. Hobbes releases him." 

She smirks at me, "You may just want to go shopping for a new beau, Honey." 

I smile, too, "It's taken me long enough to get this one halfway trained.  I don't want to have to housebreak another one just yet." 

Scott's just glaring at me.  Not seriously - more like he's trying to figure out how to get back at me for the insult.  I lean in and kiss him. 

It was only supposed to be a little more than a peck, but he's not having any of that and he grabs my face and goes to w*rk on me.  I'm not sure how long it is before I figure out that I'm not supposed to be doing any of this period, let alone with an audience. 

So: I'm sitting on his lap, my hands on his shoulders kneading gently.  He's got his hands up on my breasts, and he's chewing a little on my neck - nipping and licking.  I'm just trying to get some air to stay in my lungs for a moment (honestly, I'm wanting to protest.  I could use the air simply to keep from passing out at this moment) and I can hear someone gasping on the fringes. 

JAQI!!! 

She's staring at me like she's trying to figure out if I want to be here or something.  I try to mouth the word 'HELP', but my teeth start their chittering as his mouth finds something else to chew on. 

I'm going into light convulsions as she pulls me off of him.  He's complaining about something but I'm trying to get my senses back online.  I just about have myself getting there when she shoves my basket into my hands and pushes me into the elevator.  She's getting set to storm back into his room and yell at him. 

She starts in on him before I remember to hit the button and close the door.  I check out and go on to go home, completely forgetting that I have a picnic basket and won't be able to fly with it.  I trek back in and borrow the phone to call home. 

 

Chapter THIRTY-FOUR

September 28, 2009

Back to school.  Dad called the superintendant - the equivalent of the supreme court for schools - and talked to him about my suspension.  I don't know what was said (I was seeing Scott at that time.  Maybe even kissing him) but the suspension was reduced to two Saturday detentions.  Jimmy and Matt were still out for three days, but I'm just a kisser.  Lesser offence, I guess. 

At least I know what I'll be doing on Saturday morning. 

The Band still sounds great (just a little less great without Jimmy  :)  ) and more people are waving to me as they walk by.  I don't have many friends - even in the Band - but it's nice to not be feared quite so much. 

They head on in, and the trouble trio swing on by to visit me. 

"Hey, Squeegie!  Howyabin?"  Todd.  (Squeegie?) 

"Not too bad, considering.  Squeegie?" 

"S-G.  Squirrel-Girl.  Squeegie.  You like?" 

"Not so much.  Any-" 

"Maybe it'll grow on you."  All of them are smirking. 

"I doubt it.  Any of-" 

"Gotta run.  See you!"  Todd. 

"Nice to see you, Amy."  Jason. 

'The h*ck was that about?'  I head on in myself. 

It's a very different beast, being here this early without Matt and Jimmy.  Sarah's still here, and I think we both need for the other to be here:  She heads right for me and holds on, a slightly panicked look to her. 

"Y'okay?" 

She nods, "I just miss Jimmy.  He's like a carbon rod, you know?" 

My turn to nod, "Yeah.  I like the stability.  He was always such a blessing to me before I turned.  It's good to see you here.  I wasn't sure I was going to be able to come today:  I've got a few Saturday's to pay for my crimes.  I think the boys will be back on Thursday." 

We talk for a bit about the usual things:  School, cars, cheerleaders, boy's butts, stuff like that.  The bell just rings (first bell, six minutes to class) and she takes off to go to class (back to Band, really).  I'm about to follow, but I catch someone I know just entering the school. 

I don't think of Scott as a carbon rod.  He's more like the fuel source:  He makes me go all squicky and out of control. 

Like now.  I'm tearing off to him before I know what I'm doing, hoping that I don't knock too many people over as I go.  I remember (a little late, but I do remember) that he's been in the hospital and try to not knock him over as I *glomp* him. 

"Scott!" 

"Heya, Aims,"  ('Aims'?  What is it about today, anyways?) "Miss me?" 

"Maybe."  I know I'm not good at the calm sophistication I'm trying for, but I have to try:  It's my duty.  "I need to tell you something, but..."  I grab his head and do my best to singe his fur with a kiss.  I have no idea how well I'm doing because I think this sort of thing affects me more than it does him

I hear his growling before I hear Sarah clearing her throat.  "There are teachers about, you know.  Didn't you two get into trouble for this at the dance?" 

I'm trying to respond clearly but Scott's on a mission to destroy any coherency I've got:  And he's good at it.  I finally resort to holding his head at bay so I can speak.  "Dad's got me grounded for a month:  No contact outside of school,"  I turn to look the now-shocked Scott full in the face, "I can only imagine how he'll react to our getting into trouble for a repeat offense." 

Scott looks pained, "Can I talk to you, Aims?"  I nod, all the while planning my own mission to remove that nick-name from his vocabulary.  He drags me off a ways and hugs me again, just inhaling my scent for a minute.  "I'm not trying to pressure you at all - I want you to know that absolutely - but I need to know what you want from me.  I also need you to know what I need from you." 

My mind's spinning:  What do I want from him?  I know he's important, and that I need him.  I know that parts of me aren't going to be very happy if he's not around - and not just the naughty bits, either. 

I'm mulling the question over when he snaps his fingers in front of my face.  "I need to report in, and tell the office that I'm under restriction:  No lifting heavy objects for a month or so."  His grin comes back out to warm me up, "I guess I'll need someone to help me in the bathroom.  Should I put your name down?"  All that warmth shoots up to my cheeks, and then blooms out over my whole face (not that you could see it). 

"Scott!!  How-!  Coul-!  What-!"  I can't get anything out, but I feel like I'm going to explode.  I'm thankful that there's no one around to witness this. 

He ruffles my hair with his hand as he passes, "I'll talk to you more at lunch?"  He doesn't wait for my answer, just keeps walking (strutting) towards the office. 

So...  I'm standing there:  Trying to think, and trying to decide just what Scott does mean to me.  Naturally, that's when the bell rings. 

The second bell. 

The 'Why aren't you in class' bell. 

N*ts. 

As punishment for being late to class, the teacher has me talk only in Spanish for the period.  It's not impossible, just awkward.  And embarassing, let's not forget embarassing.  Naturally, she calls on me a lot:  Wouldn't be a punishment if I could just skate through.  I don't do too badly, just slow and awkward.  (and embarassing) 

I'm able to put it behind me and get out before dying (mortification, anyone?), until I can leave for Chemistry.  Allison's happy to see me, if only so that we don't have to make up any more labs.  No lab today, though:  This is the class period where we learn what the next lab will be about. 

I use my trick to slow everything down so I can understand it better, and discover that I can sort of multitask while it's on.  Kewl.  Doesn't help me figure out what Scott means to me, but at least I can stress out about him and not miss class.  Nice, I guess. 

I kind of wish there were another squirrel MORF here so that I could compare notes.  It'd be nice to see if the time thing is inherent to squirrels, or if I'm just a little bit more of a freak than I think I am. 

Finally!  Lunch time.  People continue to avoid me in the halls, and I don't mind just a little more than I usually don't mind.  (does that make sense?)  I exchange my things and sit down long before anyone else gets there, as usual.    

Julia shows up talking with Matt on the phone, which is new (the talking with Matt, not the phone.  Girl doesn't go anywhere without her phone).  What's even more interesting is that they're talking about going to the dance together.  Nice, though I wonder what that means for Ashley.  Not that I'm rooting for Ashley, mind you - I'm just hoping that Matt's not being a Guinea about things.  (I know, I know.  Bad Amy!  How dare you use a racial slur about people!  And a friend, too!  Sorry:  This deserves its own paragraph)

(Okay!  *Ahem!*  It is unfortunate that some groups of people have a stereotype associated with them.  It really is.  However, the stereotype almost always is there because of a certain amount of truth.  Otherwise it'd be a joke.  Italians have the misfortune of being the target of one of these.  Or maybe more than one, I'm not taking a careful count here.  There are many Italians who are less than perfectly loyal to their significant others.  So many, in fact, that they are characterized - as a people - with being unfaithful.  I don't think it's right, but they are more likely than most to be that way.  I hope that he's not being a Guinea, and that he's kicked Ashley to the curb.  But that's mostly due to her trying to take my head off at the dance.  Seriously.  For reals and everything) 

Julia says goodbye to Matt and toddles off to collect her victuals (what is it with me?  Why can't I just say 'food'?  Is it because I was just in 'lecture mode'?), then strolls over and plops down next to me.  I let my tail hug her and continue to concentrate on my lunch. 

She sighs. 

She sighs louder. 

My turn:  *sigh*  I swallow my carrot, then:  "Something wrong, Jules?"  (Not my fault:  She asked me to give her a nickname) 

"Matt's kind of cute.  Don't you think?"  Yep.  He just might be a Guinea. 

"I thought he was trying to get with Ashley."  Not saying anything more. 

"She's kind of horrible, though, isn't she?"  Not a question. 

I don't want to continue this, but I don't want to be supporting Ashley, either.  Ugh.  "Yep.  Doesn't give anyone the right to go behind her back, though." 

She hugs my tail a little more. 

Sarah's here before she can say anything more, and I don't think she wants to discuss this in front of everyone.  "Is Matt still seeing Ashley, or can I go after him?"  Wow.  I'm batting a thousand today. 

"Oh, Sweetie.  Don't you think you can do better than Matt?"  Sarah. 

"He's cute, and thoughtful, and smart, and funny, and," breath, "he cares about m-us all of us and I think he's a great kissser notthatI'vebeenkissinghimohGodI'msuchaslut!"  This last bit was almost shouted, and everything got really quiet in the cafeteria.  Not all over the cafeteria - that kind of thing only seems to hapen in the movies - but the tables closest to us go quiet and turn their attention towards us. 

I'm frozen.  I can't think through the shock. 

Sarah stands up and mock-slaps Julia:  "How dare you profane the Holy name with your base utterings!  You will need to... to... Sh*t, what was the line, Jules?"  And just like that, everyone's attention turned back to whatever they'd been doing.  "Seriously?" much quieter, "If you're going to go after that Guinea," (see?  It's not just me) "you need to be prepared to lose your sanity when he gets all Italian on you." 

"Yeah.  The only thing worse is getting with an Italian chick.  You're always going to be watched, and your friends will desert you because she'll drive them off."  Scott, so you know.  "It doesn't matter how good the sex is:  You end up losing your soul."  I didn't need to hear that last bit.  I really didn't.  "Hey, babe." 

He leans in for a kiss:  I'm halfway though it before I remember that I'm not supposed to be kissing him for a month.  I break it off.  Ugh!  "Sorry!  Sorry.  I'm under probation for a month, and I know you don't want to hear it but I'm supposed to respect and honor my parents and they said no contact with you for a month and that means I won't beabletokissyouandIreallywanttokissyouIwanttojustdrowninyouandandand-" 

Scott just gathers me in his arms and hugs the crazy away.  I come back to him murmuring soothing nonsense at me and everyone gathered around.  I think Scott's talking about the house we'll have someday - which is really nice - and how we'll have a porch swing where we can just sit and watch the weather go by... slowly. 

That's been a dream of mine forever (mind you:  At the time my fantasies had me and a girl sitting there, but... things change), how did he find out about my dreams? 

"That's my dream," I murmur quietly, "Who told you about my dream?" 

He just gives me a swipe of his tongue from my nose to my ear, and going right over my eye.  Some other time, I might have been grossed out.  This time, I just relax into him and let him protect me. 

The stupid bell wakes me up, of course.  Scott doesn't move at all, letting me sleep if I want to.  I do want to, I just shouldn't.  I sit up and stretch, trying to get all the kinks out:  Scott's reaction (involuntary) let's me know where I'm sitting.  I freeze.  So does Scott. 

I think we'd have both just sat there not moving if Sarah and Julia hadn't come over to lift me off.  As soon as my feet hit the floor, I take off.  I'm at my locker and back by the table to say, "Thank you!" and then off towards Mr. Singer's room. 

I know I cheated getting here because people just all-of-a-sudden show up, with the conversation starting midstream.  I don't have any other problems until I'm ready to go home after trig. 

And I shouldn't call Scott a problem, I suppose.  Though he is causing me most of my current stress.  He and Julia are waiting for me by my locker and talking idly.  Scott looks serious and she's trying to get him to lighten up.  His mood brightens when he senses me, however. 

I'm picked up and swung around in a bear hug before I can blink.  (maybe Scott has time powers, too?)  He's about to kiss me when...

"Even though this is after school, you can still be tagged for PDA:  Watch out,"  Ms. Desmond (Art teacher) 

I didn't exactly fly out of his arms immediately, nor does he drop me instantly:  I just kind of slide down his chest until my feet touch the ground.  I step back but he keeps hold of my hands.  I imagine that we looked sickeningly sweet, but I certainly don't care. 

"Were you waiting for someone?"  I am such a dork. 

"I was thinking to myself that we needed another hot babe in the car - 'cause Jules is my sister, and all.  Problem solved if you're up for it."  At least he isn't much better. 

"Well, I'll need some things from my locker first.  If you can wait a second or two?"  They start nodding, and I've gotten everything switched out before they finish.  I make sure I'm smiling through the backlash, enjoying their confusion in high speed. 

I wonder if normal squirrels are pranksters.  I'll have to look it up online, later. 

I have to keep my arms mostly to myself while I walk because... patagia.  My tail is free, however, to hug people and gesture to interesting things.  Scott's walking between the two of us, and I'm hugging the two of them.  Poor Julia:  All she can do is to hug her brother and grab my tail in her hand. 

We get to the car intact - somehow ignoring the people shouting at us to crawl off and die somewhere.  It's not like everyone's against us:  There's only a few of them that are even vocal.  It's more that the few that speak out are very loud

I actually get to sit in the front seat (tail slots are the bomb) but I make it up to Julia by swishing her in the face with my tail a few times.  She's still laughing as we enter my driveway. 

I'm laughing too, until I see Mom waiting for us to get out of the car.  I'm not disobeying her - at least, I don't think I'm disobeying her, but I'm still uneasy.  Dad said to keep away from Scott for a month.  I think Dad said to stay away for a month. 

Okay, I was kind of snogging him in school, but that's -   Exactly what he was saying not to do.  I am in so much trouble. 

*sigh* 

I get out to face the music and notice that Scott and Julia get out, too.  "Uh, guys?" 

"I need to talk to your parents about this ban."  Scott. 

"I want to see your room, if you're okay with it?"  Jules.  (Gah.  Now she's got me doing it) 

So I take Julia (Julia Julia Julia) up to my room and show her around.  She likes the shower and especially the fans (apparently Scott takes forever to dry after he showers).  I'm stuck on a mental image of Scott showering so I miss what she says next. 

"Hello, Amy?"  Blink blink.  I look at her, quizzically.  "You were just thinking about Scott showering, weren't you?"  My ears are burning while I try to come up with something.  "You totally were!  Scott's ears do the exact same thing when I embarass him!" 

Great, now my secret's out.  It's nice to have someone who can read me, but it's also a pain.  I'll have to go back to trying to control myself better, I guess.  "So, *ahem* do you like it?  My room?" 

She's saved from answering (or continuing to try to embarass me) by my intercom buzzing:  "Amy?  Would you and Julia please join us in the living room?"  Uh oh.  What's Scott done now? 

I beckon to Julia, who's over at the intercom, getting ready to poke a button.  "Jules?  They want us inside, for some reason." 

"Scott's probably bein' an @$$.  Oh!  Sorry, forgot.  You guys don't talk 'normal',"  She smiles to show she's kidding and moves to the door.  I *sigh* and go out the window  (as usual). 

I realize as I'm standing there by the house that she needed to use the door to get out.  She's looking in my room for me while I'm already at the house.  I chitter at her to get her attention and she jerks out of my room, then looks at me.  I just kind of smile at her and gesture to the main house.  She closes my door firmly and stomps her way over to me. 

She's smiling by the time she gets over to me, though.  "I forgot:  You don't usually use your own door." 

"You'd fly too, if you could." 

They're all standing in the living room when we get there.  Everyone looks so stern.  "Did I do something, and no one told me?"  Dad and Scott both start to get angry and I realize that I've just spoken out loud again.  Oops. 

"Young lady!  I told you that I didn't want you seeing Scott for at least a month, didn't I?  So why did you think that you could just blatantly disregard my orders?  I oughta spank-"  Dad. 

"Amelia Robinson!  Why on earth didn't you tell Scott that you're only fourteen?  Didn't you realize that he's been thinking of you as almost seventeen?  You're brighter than this, young lady! What-"  Mom.  (she talks a bit faster than Dad) 

"Amy?  You're not even sixteen yet?  I thought you weren't driving because of your MORFS, but... Fourteen?"  Scott. 

"You're only fourteen?  I'm older than you?  I thought you were just small because of MORFS, you know?"  Breath.  "Wow!  How'd you manage that?  Wait.  You're so smart they skipped you ahead a few times,  Kewl."  Breath.  "Wow.  Your Dad's really getting upset over this isn't he?  When does he start breaking things?  That's when I know to lay off."  Breath.  "Don't worry, though.  Scott's not like that.  He doesn't hit anyone.  Not even that sk*nk b*tch Monica."  Breath.  "Thank you for telling me about the breathing pause thing.  It's really saved me."  Jules.

Once again, keeping track of several people talking (shouting) at once was only possible due to my squirrelness.  How does Julia do it?  I'll have to ask her later.  "Mom?  Dad?  How often does how old you are come up in conversation?  Scott?  Yes, I've skipped a few grades.  It wasn't ever important until now.  I never thought of it being a problem before, but...  Jules?  You're welcome."  And I hug her (well, my tail does) 

Everyone continues with the yelling and the shouting and the just talking (thank you, Jules) for over ten minutes until I just can't take it anymore.  Dad can't get past my disobeying him (which I understand:  I did), Mom thinks that I should have known that Scott was older (I did, but tell me which boy around me mature enough to be interested in isn't older.  She didn't much like me bringing that up), Scott feels betrayed somehow:  As if I should have the number fourteen hanging around my neck for everyone to see, Julia just wants to be my friend, and I love her for that. 

Anyways, I reach my boiling point and just take off.  I'm outside and over the hill before they even notice I'm gone.  (okay, that's not quite right.  Before they can react to my leaving)  I know I'm going to be in trouble for it but I'm already in trouble, and I really could not take another go-round of the same things being said. 

I messed up and didn't obey Dad.  I admit that clearly.  I will also freely admit that I shouldn't have been kissing him.  I'm under injuction (is that the right word?) not to.  The fact that I didn't see a clear way to not kiss him (actually, I still don't.  Assuming that he still wants to kiss me, that is) is irrelevant.  You break the rules, and you suffer the consequences. 

I do not, however, agree that I should have told him that I was only fourteen, and therefore ineligible for consideration of dating.  Even if my brains hadn't turned off every time I'm around him, I still wouldn't have told him because it never came up in conversation.  I'm not in the habit of telling everyone I'm only fourteen (or even fourteen and three quarters:  Why not make myself seem really young while I'm at it). 

I'm not ashamed of it.  I wasn't trying to score myself an older boyfriend.  I've never used my youth as an excuse before, and I'm not about to start now.  Why is she in my face about this?  Let it go, already. 

I'll say the same thing to Scott if I ever see him again.  I'm not in the habit of announcing my age to everyone:  It just upsets the people in my class and makes any kind of relationship even more difficult.  He never asked, nor did he tell me he was even older than other Seniors.  I didn't ask, because it never mattered.  *sigh* 

The only bright spot is julia still being around to be my friend.  I don't know what I'm going to be going through in the near future, but having a friend will make my survival more likely.  I pause in the first tree of any real size and drop off my clothes; I should have stopped at my room.  Too late now. 

I've been ranging farther afield in my forest, and I've now been through all of it, I think.  I catch up on the lives of the animals I've become aware of over the summer - mostly checking in on how the babies are doing.  I spend a good hour just doing that.  It doesn't feel like I've been away long enough, so I take a nap in a tree. 

*

Dad

"I don't think she'll be back anytime soon.  Do you want her to call you tomorrow?  I'll make sure-" 

"I really need to talk to her, if it's all right with you?  I think I messed up pretty badly, and I need to get this straight with her before it goes any further.  Could you put up with us for tonight?  A spare bedroom or something?  I'll be all right with a blanket on the floor, but Jules...?" 

"I'm not sure-" 

"Scott?  Why don't you and Julia stay in Amy's old room?  You can talk to her if you need to - when she gets back - and the phone's there if you need to call your folks."  I take Lily to our room and close the door.  "I'm not sure about their home life, are you?"  *ned*  "So it might be best to let this happen now, and figure out what to do about them tonight.  *chuckle* Also about Amy and Scott." 

"I didn't figure I'd be losing her this quickly, I-" 

"We're not losing her:  We're calling a time out while we work on the rules.  Right?" 

*Nod*  "Jake?  I'll go get them squared away.  I think her old room is still set up, but..." 

She goes off to help them.  I start thinking about how this might work.  I am not going to just let this all slide, but I don't think that we'll need to do anything drastic.  For that matter, a month of separation seems a little... extreme?  It's not like they're having sex, or anything. 

Are they? 

*

Jules

"Wow!  Fourteen!"  I need to take control of this conversation before Scott digs himself in any deeper.  "She seems so much older than that, doesn't she."  I'm not phrasing it as a question on purpose - not letting him think of her as a little girl is important. 

People always think of me as ditzy - and I never really could fight it, before.  But now?  I can plan things out a little better; take whatever time I need to get it straight before I open my mouth.  It doesn't always work out that way, but... 

Her Mom's going to be here in a minute with some blankets and stuff.  We can talk after that. 

Wow.  Amy's old room sure doesn't look like any girl's room I've ever seen.  There's not even a mirror in here, let alone a vanity or anything like that.  I guess she really was a boy before MORFS hit her.  She's adjusted well if this is where she'd started. 

Scott's doing his 'deep thinker' thing again.  I wonder where he'll come out this time.  I hope he decides to stay with Amy:  She's a lot better for him than all of his old girlfriends had been.  Combined. 

She's nicer, too.  I had a problem holding onto friends before I MORFed.  After?  Every one of them dropped me afterwards.  I guess they weren't really my friends, you know?  Maybe they were just hanging around to get closer to Scott.  Hmm. 

Amy's friends seem to have kept with her despite her changes.  I guess she's got a better class of friend than I did.  Well, then I did is certainly accurate.  I've got her now.  And maybe some of her friends will like me, too. 

Especially Matt. 

Amy's Mom comes in and interrupts my dreamytime thinkings.  She doesn't say much, other than that we're welcome to stay, but to try to keep the noise down and make sure we get some sleep. 

I like her.  She seems nice. 

"Me, too." 

I guess I'd spoken out loud.  I really must remember to stop doing that.  "So?"  He's just looking at me.  "Have you decided that she's the one for you?  Do you really think that any of the other...  What?"  He's chuckling at me.  I know that other girls like it when he chuckles at them, but I can't stand it. 

"I just about died when she vanished on us while we were..." 

"When you were all bitching her out?  Yeah.  I'm surprised she stayed that long.  I guess she loves her parents, or something." 

"...yeah.  Anyways:  I'll be trying to convince her to stick with me despite my failings.  I have a temper, and I don't react normally to authority, and-" 

"You try to 'stick it' to every authority figure you meet.  How is that abnormal?" 

"- and I have a sister who's a pain in the ass.  At least she won't have to deal with that for too long." 

Even with my new abilities, I still can't think fast enough to win a bitch fight against him.  I sigh, and he starts chuckling again.  "What?" 

"Amy's got this thing about 'the right way to sigh', and I just think she's cute.  *sigh*" 

Maybe there is a difference in the sighing.  Seems like kind of a weird thing to focus on, though.  "She's not going to be home anytime soon, so I'm going to go to sleep." 

"G'night, Jules." 

She might have better friends, but I've got the best brother I know. 

*

It's fully dark when I wake up, and I think I might have gone a little farther than I wanted to in letting everyone cool off.  I can still see well enough to get my clothes, so I collect them and head to my room. 

There's a note on my table saying to check in when I get back, so I jump over to my old room and go in.  I almost step on Scott as I climb in the window.  I guess Julia's in my bed, then (my old bed).  I creep by them and open the door slowly, trying not to wake them. 

Mom and Dad are asleep on the couch, with the television locked on the blue screen of death.  I slide over to them and lightly brush Mom with my tail.  She brushes it away sleepily, so I do it again.  This time she grabs it and tries to pull it aside.  I almost pull her out of the couch before she wakes up. 

"Amy?  Are you okay?" she yawns.  "Your Father and I were worried about you.  Did you eat?"  Many concerns with my Mother have to do with eating.  It might be why I was such a porker before.  She pokes Dad, who grumbles a little and grabs her, pulling her down into a more comfortable position.  I can also smell his growing arousal, and I want to nip that in the bud as quickly as possible. 

"Ew, Dad." 

He stops, and says clearly enough to Mom:  "It's your turn.  I w*rk today." 

Mom chuckles a little, and pokes him again:  "She's back, Jake."  Dad shoots upright, blinking a few times to focus his eyes. "Remember:  We're going to let her explain things this time.  Right?" 

He stops getting ready to yell at me some more and nods, clearing the way for me to start explaining myself.  I *sigh*, trying to gather my thoughts again.  "I know that I messed up and didn't follow the 'no contact' rule.  I'm not sure what I should have done, but I do know that I shouldn't have been kissing him.  I'm sorry." 

Deep beath.  "I do not apologize for 'leading him on'," (I used the 'air-quotes'), "because I didn't think I was." Mom's about to angrily object, but Dad stops her, "I'm not in the habit of announcing my age to all and sundry, nor do I think you are.  I didn't think it was gong to be a problem, because I couldn't think.  Something about him turns my brain off.  I don't know what it is, and I hope that I can get over it without trying to kill myself inside by cutting it out.  He makes me happy.  I can only hope that I do something similar for him.  I am well aware that I'm only fourteen:  I can only be as old as I am.  If I keep that in mind, I will never connect with anyone.  It's hard enough trying to make friends with everyone only thinking I'm one year younger than they are.  I can't imagine having any success if they knew the truth.  Maybe Jimmy.  Maybe.  And, okay.  Sarah, too." 

I'm getting ready to continue when they stop me, both of them converging on me for a hug.  "Sweetheart, I guess we just weren't thinking about how hard things are for you.  We were just concerned with keeping you safe,"  Dad, who pulls back enough to look me in the eye.  "We still are.  We're also trying to cope with having a daughter:  We've got raising boys down pretty good, if you'll excuse us not having had a perfect run with you.  We're just trying to make sure you end up a good person, and not too handicapped with all of our mistakes." 

Mom takes over, "We both think that Scott's a good boy.  We do,"  She looks sharply at Dad, collecting a grimace and a nod.  "He's so much older than you that we're worried about the troubles you'll have - even assuming that he wants to try having a relationship with you." 

I hear a faint, "He does," from my old room, but Mom continues as if she hadn't.  (and she very likely did not

"We just want the best for you, and not to saddle you with our burdens.  But we're not sure that Scott is the best choice for you right now.  Maybe after you've graduated and gone to college a bit, you'll find a nice young man - maybe even Scott - and you'll start your new life with him.  Until then, you should concentrate on school.  Okay?" 

"Okay,"  I grumble.  "When did you know Dad was the right one for you?  How old were you, anyways?" 

Dad's trying very hard to not laugh as Mom pinks.  "I'm not sure that you need to know that - Jake, stop laughing! - right now.  You should probably go to bed and let us do the same." 

"I slept in a tree out there:  It's why I was out so late.  Why is Dad laughing, and what are you trying to hide from me?"  I'm trying not to get angry, but the 'go to bed, little girl' routine just jabs my nerves. 

"It's just that you're a lot like your Mother in this.  Except that I was five years older than her, and fresh out of the military.  She had just turned seventeen, and her parents absolutely hated me.  Probably still do, come to think of it.  You may have noticed that they haven't ever been around to see you growing up?  That's the reason.  They were only too glad to sign the papers letting her marry at seventeen." 

He turns to look at Mother, who absolutely will not meet his gaze.  "Of course, this is something that I didn't hear about until Derek was on his way.  Isn't that about right, Lily-fair?"  Mom's face was practically glowing, and I couldn't decide if I should laugh or shout. 

There's an old (2002, maybe?) Television show Dad loves, and he doesn't know I've watched his DVDs.  It was called Firefly, I think.  Cancelled after the first season.  Tragic.  Anyways, one of the characters gets all confused for a moment, and goes:  "Huh." 

I just thought it was funny, before.  Now I'm the one going:  "Huh."  Dad loses it, of course.  Mom's embarassment is quickly losing to her new, 'Again?  You, too?' look.  I shake my head, "I know I'm too young for a really serious relationship, I really do.  I'm never going to get into a real relationship with any kind of an equal footing unless - or until - I get some practice at it.  I'm not planning on doing anything I shouldn't.  My brain shutting off is going to be a problem, and I don't know how to deal with it except to be with someone I can trust.  I trust Scott.  Do you?" 

Mom was looking a little torn:  I think she actually does trust him, but not in the way that makes her feel better about handing me over to him.  "I think this discussion should be continued in the morning, after some of us get the sleep we'll need to fend off the ravages of teenage hormones," she stands up and grabs Dad's hand, "We'll see you in a few hours-"  She jumps, and Dad's hand is on her rump, "NOONISH!  Afternoon!  See you later! Get to your room and play some music or something.  Bye!"  She takes off to their room, a smirking Dad close on her heels. 

I'm a little wrung out, so all I can manage is another:  "Huh."  I hope they use protection.  And I clearly did not just have that thought - nor any of the thoughts that are following it.  Gah!  I need a distraction. 

Scott comes out of my room and slips down the stairs.  I'm just standing there:  Either in fear of him noticing and eating me, or fear of him noticing and leaving me.  All my fears are ended when he just strides over and pulls me into a crushing hug.  I don't mind.  Dad might mind, but he's busy and... 

I have the sensation of being lifted up now I'm being kissed.  Not just kissed - claimed.  In a very primal and certain fashion.  He's on edge about something, and my growing arousal feeds his own.  I feel very strongly that I should stop; get some distance and clear my head before we talk (and we need to talk) but no one's listening to me.  (not even me

"Scott.  *Ahem*  Scott.  We need to talk before we go-"  Wow!  That's a good spot.  He senses me reacting and starts to nip me lightly:  My teeth start chittering and I feel a burning numbness - like a void - between my legs.  I'm starting to panic, but I can't focus on anything other than him

He kills me by pulling back a bit, then a lot more.  My senses finally start to return to me as he searches the kitchen for a glass - finally just sticking his head under the faucet and turning it on cold.  He gulps water loudly for the length of time it takes me to get myself back together fully (or as close as I can get, lately). 

"Where do you want to talk?" 

I've been thinking that a lot of our problems are based off of scent, so:  "Dad's garage.  The smells should help a bit."  He nods and heads out, me following and trying not to notice how good he looks right now.  The door's locked (natch) so I pull a second story and open the door for him. 

I was right:  I can actually think out here, even with him right next to me.  I move farther away (just to be sure, mind you.  No one here's nervous) and have a seat on Dad's truck.  Scott leans against the grill and *sighs*.  (see?  Scott gets it right) 

"I don't want to do this without you.  Whatever this is, I think I'm going to need you to get me through it.  It just killed me when you took off:  And after hearing how old you were that was all I wanted.  I'm sorry.  I haven't handled it well," he smirks wryly, "and I'm certainly old enough to know better." 

"You scare me," he rocks back, "I can't think around you and you make me feel things I'm not ready for.  I know that I'm not old enough for things like this despite women having gotten married much younger than I am in the past:  Different times.  I have no intention of disobeying my parents, especially my Father:  But if you were to leave me I would follow you until you told me to go away," I block him with my tail, "Please be patient with me:  I'll only be too young a little longer." 

He pulls me to him by my tail, which isn't all that hard:  My fur on a smooth truck hood.  I can feel him shaking as he holds me, and I can feel my own shivers running through my body - taking their time to run down my tail.  All of a sudden, I can't think anymore:  The smells of exhaust and oil have been replaced by him

I know I can't resist him, and there's a very small voice telling me I should at least try.  I can feel him lifting me, and moving us somewhere.  I just can't seem to bring myself to care.  As long as he's with me. 

 

Chapter THIRTY-FIVE

September 29, 2009

I wake up, simultaneously the most comfortable I can ever remember being and distinctly uncomfortable and cold.  Scott twitches, letting me know he's there behind me.  Little Scott twitches, too:  Letting me know exactly where he is, and what it is that's on his little mind.  I need to do something about him before he decides for Scott and I both. 

I wiggle my tail a little - just to see where it is - and then twist myself about until I'm facing Scott directly.  He's still not awake.  I stretch up a little and see what I can kiss.  About the highest I can reach is his throat, which smells good.  I start nuzzling him and see what kind of reaction I can get. 

He grunts a little (sleepily) and rolls over on top of me.  I - brave person that I am - 'eep!' quietly and shove my tail down so we don't roll over it.  "Eep!  Sco-"  It might help if I didn't have so many... ticklish... spots.  He seems intent on discovering all of them.  I can feel something rising up in me:  It starts slow, but quickly gains momentum.  I see stars, and hear angels singing behind this rushing ROARING EXPLODING... 

I come back down to see Scott over me:  And he looks panicked.  "Scott?"  Wow, that's a sexy voice.  I start to get embarassed that someone with that voice is in here with us talking to Scott in that sexy voice.  Then I start to get angry, that someone - with that voice - is in here with us talking to Scott in that stupid voice. 

"Scott, who's-"  Oh.  I'm the girl with the sexy voice talking to Scott.  *Ahem*  "Scott, are you okay?  What happened?"  Scott is standing now - suddenly - and it looks like he's trying to think.  Or something.  Then he turns to face me. 

All I'm going to say is:  'Dogs have a bulge in their penis'.  I'm surprised.  I'm certain that my face shows how surprised I am.  And embarassed.  Scott looks embarassed, too.  He's looking around for something - pants, probably.  Good luck getting that in your jeans, Scott. 

I take pity on him (and I like being near him, sue me):  I show him the shower.  He drags me in there with him.  I'm not protesting, not even when he insists on washing me.  All of me.  I'm still ticklish under the arms.  I didn't know that.  I'd have thought that the patagia being there would preclude any tickling from happening.  Wrong. 

His face smells a lot like me:  I like it.  He gets a lot of kisses for that.  His... penis... scares me a bit:  But he needs to be clean. so... 

I show him my 'loofah tail' - I use it as my washcloth, as it can get into the places that my patagia'd hands can't:  Like to wash my hair. 

We discover (or I rediscover) that the base of my tail has certain reactions associated with it:  He has to cool me off with cold water.  It w*rks, but now I have a headache. 

He loves the blowers, and wishes he had something like these at his house. 

"Do you want me-"  I don't know what he was going to say, because the intercom goes off. 

"Hello?  Amy?  Scott?  Amy, your Mom's awake and she's going to be looking for Scott in just a minute.  If you meet her as she comes out of the bathroom you can distract her so Scott can climb in.  See you!" 

I give Scott a kiss/lick on his cheek and jump over to my old room, letting my tail hug Julia as I go through the door and intercepting Mom on the stairs.  Life as a squirrel moves pretty quick:  It's a good thing that I'm quick, too. 

"Hey, Mom.  Did you and Dad sleep well?"  I add the extra emphasis to (hopefully) stop her from thinking about what I might have been doing last night.  She pinks and nods, then clears her throat. 

*Ahem*  "Yes, thank you.  Did you get any more sleep?"  *nod*  "Good.  I was about to ask our guests if they'd like to have breakfast here before they go home?" 

I nod again, "That sounds great.  I'll ask them what they want, okay?"  A lot of nodding going on in our house today.  Yup.  I go back into the room I'd just come out of and relay my Mother's plans. 

"That sounds great!  Can I use the bathroom and get cleaned up first?  I'm sure that Scott will want a shower, too.  He gets pretty rank if he doesn't get clean fairly regularly."  She said that last bit loud enough that Mom could hear her. 

"Sounds good to me, too.  Especially the shower.  Jules, you can use the one here.  I think I'll go try out Amy's:  See what those fans are like."  Scott jumps right out the window he'd just climbed in through.  I shrug and follow him.  We don't actually take a shower this time, just cuddle on my bench/couch. 

*

Scott

I'm not complaining - seriously.  No complaints here whatsoever.  Last night.  Then this morning.  And now?  I'm trying to keep an eye on the time, because I really think Amy's sleeping. 

It's not as awkward as I'd have thought:  Waking up with a woman you haven't had sex with.  Unless you count oral.  And that was after we'd woke up.  Huh. 

I'm glad her parents didn't go off on her.  Her getting in trouble because of me...  There was a time not too long ago when I'd have welcomed it:  It's sort of confirmation that families are the same wherever you go, you know? 

But this family seems different, somehow.  I'm more of a surprise than they were hoping for when they thought of her boyfriend, I'm betting.  Heh.  Still, they're looking out for her, and trying to keep her safe.  I don't blame them for thatI want to keep her safe, too. 

Fourteen!  What the fu- heck.  It kind of loses something when you're not swearing doing it.  What's up with that?  What's up with this whole house?  They're not acting normal, that's for sure. 

Wonder if I'm going to start saying 'shucks' and 'gee-wilikers', or something. 

Little Scott made sure to embarass me this morning.  Her reaction was something else.  Then she caps it off with a shower?  This girl is about as far from normal as I can imagine. 

Oops!  Guess I'd better wake her up.

*

Scott nips my neck, waking me up.  "I think I'd be done with my shower now, and your Mom's going to be wondering why you stayed here with me showering anyways.  Let's go eat." 

I hadn't even thought about going back while Scott 'showered'.  See what I mean?  Off.  "I think she'd be expecting me to try to get a look, in any event." 

Mom's got a great breakfast ready:  Waffles, sausage, eggs, fruit, juices - all the classics.  She pulled out all the stops since we have company:  I don't eat most of this, so she doesn't get to cook like this as much.  Scott and Jules jump right in.  I chuckle as I bypass them and get a box of grape nuts and a bowl.  Taking my bowl full of cereal and fruit, I sit down next to Scott and eat. 

Both Mom and Dad are looking at us like they're  trying to figure out what to say to us that would firm up what they want to say, while still leaving us room so we don't explode.  Oh, and totally not mentioning that they'd been having a lot of sex.  They both kind of reek of it. 

It doesn't bother me as much today:  Wonder why?  I mean, it's a good thing that your parents love each other.  It's just not always comfortable (or ever, for that matter) to know that they're still having sex.  Ew. 

I wasn't going to ever mention it, of course.  It's the sort of thing that changes everything.  If you think about it, any such power would have an effect. 

Telepaths would make it necessary to have all kinds of laws and even new technologies:  I'm not sure what kinds would be available, but you'd need to be able to jam them, or something.  An unscrupulous TP would maybe be able to control people.  *shudder*  Even if all they could do was read minds, there's all sorts of vital information out there that a spy might want to know.  And let's not even talk about changing things.  Imagine a friend of yours all of a sudden having full memories of being a six year old named Sally. 

I haven't been keeping abreast of the news, and I don't know what's all out there.  Heh.  Maybe there'll be a group  like the X-Men, or something.  That'd be cool. 

Okay, until you start to think about what they'd be going up against.  Add to that wars between countries, and...  It's a nasty ball of worms. 

Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Mom and Dad are trying to tell us (me, at least) something.  I am trying to get out of here with my brains intact.  Fortunately for me, the clock's on my side.  I finish breakfast, and: "Bye, Mom!  Bye, Dad!"  I kiss them goodbye, swipe Jules with my tail and scorch Scott with a kiss behind his ear (I didn't know it was one of his spots, I swear). 

And I'm off (I'll say). 

*

Parents (Your guess is as good as mine)

"Why didn't you say something?  I thought you had it all planned out what to say?" 

"I thought you were going to start it off!  I was waiting for you, so I could adjust from how she reacted." 

Okay.  That makes more sense.  "Maybe I should have said something to Scott?  It might have helped, in the long run." 

*sigh*  "We'll just have to wait for tonight.  I doubt this is over." 

*

I make it to school before Scott and Julia, which makes me happy (and a little giddy):  That's before I realize that they wouldn't have left until they were done with breakfast.  They might not even come straight here (probably had to go home to change).  Oh, well:  At least I made good time. 

Just as I get there it starts raining.  Nice. 

So... the Band will be inside today, and I won't be able to listen to them play.  I'm staying dry, at least:  There's a decent sized tree out front and what few leaks it has I can handle with my tail.  Doesn't make me any happier, mind you:  I'm just not getting any more depressed.  So it's kind of a win.  Sort of? 

A car drives by and stops.  Two guys get out and hammer in a sign, then pile back in the car.  The car leaves and I'm staring at the sign, trying to read it from here.  *sigh*  No luck.  I take my 'umbrella' and go over to the sign. 

'NOTICE:

 Town Hall Meeting:  7:00,  October 15, 2009

To discuss the Government's Lack Of ACTION

 concerning these ANIMALS being allowed

in school with our innocent children. 

Stand Up For Humanity!

(Council For Purity)

... 

Wow. 

I don't know how long I stood there, but a car finally comes by and splashes me out of my stupor.  Today's just getting better and better. 

Okay: Considering how good it had started, it almost had to get worse.  Still... 

I'm finally allowed to go inside, so I make my way (dripping) to a bathroom so I can dry off before school.  Darla's inside, primping.  I just nod to her and go into the handicapped stall (more room) to take things off and shake the water off as best I can. 

"Hey!  Watch it, freak!" 

"Oops!  Sorry, Darla.  Are you okay?"  I step out, mostly naked but unconcerned about it.  "I got splashed by some jerk doing a drive-by.  I didn't think-" 

"Yeah, I'll just bet you 'didn't think'!  I'm not even sure you can think.  I don't know how you animals managed to get the courts to allow you to even keep breathing, but don't count on it lasting.  Your day is coming:  Your last day!"  She storms out. 

"Wow.  Drama, much?"  I finish up and try to get the water out of my tunic.  *sigh*  I'll just have to wear it until it dries.  I step out of the bathroom and see Sarah holding a flyer, looking angry. 

"What's up?" 

She just snarls at me and hands me the flyer.  It's basically the same thing as the sign outside, but with a little more information and some links to websites.  I hand it back, but she just crumples it up and throws it out. "I saw the sign outside while getting rained on.  Sorry, no hugs just yet." 

She looks hurt, like she needs a hug.  I can't resist the puppy eyes so I strip off the tunic and hug her.  She mock protests and squeezes me tight.  I was just going to make it a quick hug ('cause I'm 'mostly nekkid) but she won't let go for anything

"Uhm, Sarah?"  She giggles, "I'm not wearing enough for school here."  My tail is providing me with enough coverage that none of my naughty bits would be showing even if I had no fur.  But, still... 

"Ain't that a sight for poor eyes!"  Jason.  Which means... 

"Whoo-hoo!  Yeah girls!  Gett-"  Phil, who was shut up by... 

"Knock it off, dummy!  They'll get in trouble and then you'll get in trouble with me,"  Todd. 

"You're not the boss of me."  Phil.  But he does clam up after that. 

Everyone just looks at me as I calmly put my tunic back on.  I'm just glad that the teachers usually avoid the cafeteria while school's starting.  Granted:  If a teacher were likely to show up, I wouldn't have stripped.  Probably.  Not even for Scott.  (maybe) 

Speaking of Scott:  He strolls in with his sister, hardly pausing on his way over to me. 

Phil tries to distract him:  "Guess who was all naked jus-"  Scott ignores both Phil and Todd (who shuts Phil up again) to pick me up by my arms and lays one on me.  Or maybe it's two, or even three.  I'm not sure.  I'm just glad he got his mouth out of mine before I started to chitter. 

My chittering is a signal - both to me and to Scott - that maybe we should cool it for a bit.  He's the only one listening, but the signal is there, at least.  I come back to everyone staring at us.  Jules and Sarah are looking in awe, the trouble trio in various stages of excitement and disappointment. 

My ears hurt I'm so embarassed.  "I've got to-  I need to-  I'm gonna-  BYE!"  I take off.  I'm in Spanish before I unclench and let time flow again.  It really only takes me like five seconds when I'm seriously travelling.  I'm there before the first bell rings, and I surprise the teacher:  Mrs. Paulo. 

"Hola, Amy.  You were so concerned with not being late again that you got here extra early?"  Her eyes are twinkling, and I don't think it's because she's excited to start teaching. 

"Something like that."  I so wish my ears would stop burning

"I'm glad.  I heard this awful sound from the cafeteria just before I was almost knocked over by a wind.  A wind that led me... Here.  Did you know anything about this horrible phenomenon?  Of course you don't:  You have been here, waiting to learn!"  She's really enjoying this a lot

She goes off - laughing - and prepares for her day.  I just have to sit and wait for everyone else to show up.  Today might not be the best day I've ever had.  (sarcasm) 

My day progresses, and I can tell who among the students is likely to attend (or at least send their parents to) the town hall meeting.  It's more than I'd like, but really not all that big a number. 

I'm just worried that the percentage will be skewed against the MORFS survivors.  Okay, I'm worried about it going the other way, too.  That would just delay the response, and make it worse.  I seriously don't see things getting better any time soon.  Not from a governmental meeting, anyways. 

Scott comes over to me in lunch and whuffles in my ear:  People might have been talking about something - or even many things - but my mind shut off, so I have no record of it. 

"-ouldn't do that to her here.  You know how she gets."  Matt?  No.  Matt's suspended.  So... Phil. 

"Yeah, I wonder when she'll come back down to-  Hey!  There she is!"  Jason. 

My ears are burning again.  I should really eat something now:  I don't know how long I have left 'till the bell rings.  I start eating, just letting my tail squeeze him.  As bad as this day has been lately, this is nice.  People always want to be happy (and right at the moment, I'm pretty close) and think that God promises that if you follow Him, you'll be happy. 

This is not what He promises.  The closest He promises is contentment, and even then there'll be turbulence.  'Life more abundantly' is how it goes:  Higher highs and lower lows.  (hey!  That rhymes)  Being at peace doesn't seem like much to a people who've had everything for a long time, but it's everything to those who've been at war forever. 

The main thing He promises is that He'll be with you.  No matter what you face, you don't have to face it alone - and that's huge

"You should do some tests, and try for conditioning or something:  See if she can snap out of it earlier.  It would be a bad thing if she kept checking out on you while you were making time."  General laughter.  "Or a good thing if she didn't like you."  More laughter as Sarah slaps Jason on the arm. 

*Ahem*  "Are we done?"  It came out a little more frosty than I was hoping for, but I'm just trying for a little equilibrium here.  My balance is shot.  They all look at each other like: 'What do you think?  Are we done?', then turn and nod to me like they're almost one person.  It's good to have friends, you know? 

I groan and lay my head on the table.  Scott sees this as a cry for help and simply lifts me over to sit on his lap.  I may possibly have 'eep'ed during this maneuver.  Possibly.  His hands slide up under my tunic and start a grreeaat massage.  Relax:  Patagia.  All he does is rub my back a bit (sickos). 

I'm trying not to moan and lean into him too obviously (also trying not to writhe):  Until he begins to use his nails.  I - apparently - have a lot of triggers.  He's (honestly) just trying to get me to relax.  I'm starting to really want his attention. 

I know he can smell my reaction by how his hands change their movements:  What started as lazy circles and whorls quickly changes to vibrating straight lines that threaten to push me over the edge. 

My hands drop to my sides and start kneading his thighs, incidently allowing him access to the front of my torso.  He lasts a fast five seconds before he sets my teeth chittering.  Softly.  His muzzle starts to w*rk its way up my neck to my ears, But Sarah (meanie!) interrupts us. 

"Scott!  Amy!" 

We pause for a second or so, Then Scott's hands shoot out from under my clothes and assume the classic: 'I'm innocent!' pose. 

I am slowly rocking my butt over his growing problem, grinding into him and keeping my teeth a-chittering softly. 

He groans a little then leans forward and nips my ear, sharply.  My brain re-engages and I start to take stock of the situation.  Again, I'd like to say that I quickly-but-smoothly slid off of Scott and resumed my seat (albeit with a modicum of embarassment).  What happened is that I jerked off of him, realized that my tail was firmly wrapped around him (and the chairs), and threw the both of us to the ground in a big pile of bodies, limbs, and chairs (with a BIG helping of embarassment:  One of the chairs was digging into my butt (and this set me off againLOUDLY

Of course, everyone jumps up to help:  So everyone gets to see my nethers, with a chair leg in my... me.  Everyone stops. 

I'm panicking.  I know I'm panicking.  Knowing this doesn't  stop me from trying to kick the chair out of me and skitter away.  What I end up doing, however, is to thrash about in a blind panic until Scott holds me down hard.  Someone (I'm really thankful that I don't know who) gently removes the chair from me.  I can smell the blood, but the pain fades in a few seconds. 

Scott gathers me in his arms and carries me into the Auditorium, closing us both off from everyone else.  Distractedly, I can hear my friends (even the trouble trio) keeping everyone else out.  I still want the Earth to swallow me up and hide me, but at least no one sees me crying. 

Scott's nonsense sounds and gentle rocking calm me down enough that I'm no longer suicidal.  It's still a little while until I can do more than just let him comfort me.  It's important to have friends in times like these.  It's even better to have a boyfriend, but... 

"Are you okay?"  I'm tempted to answer him, but I realize that I'm the one who asked. 

He chuckles (and it's really nice to be held by someone chuckling):  "I feel like I should be asking you.  I'm fine, thank you." 

"Am I still... bleeding?"  This is sort of awkward (neat word.  It looks like what it means), but not as much as I'd've thought.  It's not even weird to have him inspect me down there.  It's quite a bit weirder to have him stick his nose down there and lick me clean.  (to say nothing of how weird that makes me feel) 

I'm getting all set for a rocket-ride, but Scott controls himself.  He backs away from me quickly and starts to shake his head.  I'm slowly climbing down when I realize how Scott's face smelled like me.  (I'm slower than I'd like to be, sometimes) 

"I have to go!"  And he takes off, probably to the bathroom to wash his nose.  Kinda cool what he was doing, but:  Ew.  (Still:  It's nice to have an effect on him, rather than it being all one sided) 

I rearrange some things and step out of my underwear:  It's... soiled.  Soiled is a good word.  It's got things in it I don't want next to me. 

Deep breath. 

*

Scott

What the fuck is up with me?  I've got better control than this!  She's not that sexy.  I should be able to-  Okay.  Her voice is that sexy.  Granted.  But... 

I wash the smell of her off my nose.  That wasn't something I'd've thought I'd be into.  Maybe it's just her.  I don't react like this for any of the other girls around.  Even that choice bit...  Allison?  Something like that. 

Dad always said that there's someone out there for everyone.  And if mom's around, he'll try to make her think it's her.  But I caught him once when he was drunk - used to happen more often before he got hurt at work - and he told me about a little girl he'd known once.  Even then, he wouldn't say her name:  He just talked about her until he fell asleep, crying. 

"Son?  One of these days, you're going to meet a girl who'll take everything you know about yourself and throw it right the fuck out.  You'll no longer be interested in any bitches:  She'll be the only one for you.  Whatever you do, make sure you stick with her." 

That's the sort of advice that stays with you. 

Seeing what your mom's done to your dad?  Yep.  That just sets it in deeper.  I've got to keep Amy away from mom, and that's that. 

Better get this chair cleaned up, too.  Someone'll want to use it.  Eventually. 

*

I leave the auditorium and make my way to my locker while everyone (not just my everyone, but everyone) asks me how I'm doing.  I can't answer them because they won't stop asking me.  I'm building towards an explosion (anger) when a teacher finally makes an appearance. 

She begins restoring order and getting people's stories - I can tell that we MORFS survivors freak her out a bit, but she's trying to keep calm and carry on.  It doesn't take me too long to make the exchange, and by that time she knows she needs to talk to me.  Great. 

"Ms. Robinson?"  I walk over to her, "What happened?" 

I freaked out a little, got turned on by my boyfriend (what a lovely word that), panicked, got hurt, panicked some more, got rescued by my friends, flashed my friends, got rescued by my boyfriend (yep, still a lovely word), freaked us both out with the aftermath, and would now like to go to English.  "Nothing I want to go public with." 

"Look, Amy?"  I can see that she thinks that putting a hand on my shoulder will help me, but she doesn't want to touch me.  I'm not really wanting her to touch me, so we're good to go.  She settles for leaning in a little, "If you need to talk to someone, I-I'm sure that the nurse would be willing to help you?" 

*sigh*  B- for effort, there.  "I'll clean off the chair and get out of your hair, mmkay?"  Wow!  I did not mean that to be that b*tchy.  "I've broken no laws, and just want to get this behind me.  Sorry for the snark, but we both know you'd rather not talk to me.  I know I'd rather not talk to you.  No one needs this to be a problem, so let's just let it go."  I refrain from adding an 'mmkay?' at the end.  What is up with me? 

She tries to get angry, "Look here, Amy R-"  She stops.  "You're right.  Nothing happened, so I guess we're done here.  You should get that taken care of, and get to class."  She turns on her heel and stalks away.  I'm not overly concerned that she's angry:  I don't think she'll want to make anything of this. 

I go over to the chair (and Sarah, who's been waiting) to find that someone's taken it already.  "Hey Sarah, *hug* Who took the chair?" 

"Your boyfriend snagged it on his way past.  What's with Palmer?  What did you say to her?" 

It's still nice to hear the word.  It's even nicer when it's someone else giving him the title.  "She wanted me to talk about it while not wanting to know anything about it.  I called her on it and told her to walk away.  That I was right about it didn't seem to make her any happier about it.  Did Scott leave already?" 

Her face went through curious, shocked, afraid, and amused while I was speaking.  Now she just smirks and looks over my shoulder at Scott, who's just come out of the bathroom with a slightly damp shirt and a squeaky-clean chair.  He sees us and breaks into a grin (slightly embarassed, but...).  He sets the chair down. 

"Sarah, " they nod to each other.  "Am-"  I'm kissing him.  I'd like to say, 'in his arms and kissing him', but...patagia.  It's getting harder to think, now that he's here.  It's about all I can do to keep the wooly feeling out of my brain, and I know that some of it's leaking.  I can feel my teeth starting to chitter at him, softly expressing...  What?  My feelings?  My needs? 

We fall back on the table and he groans - reminding me that he's just gotten out of the hospital and doesn't need me on his chest right now.  I'm trying to get off of him, but I'm having a hard time convincing my body to follow orders.  Helpful Sarah is helpful:  She's grabbed my tail and is trying to pull me off of him. 

The bell rings (second bell) and that finally shocks me out of my trance.  I leap off of Scott, glomping Sarah and knocking us both to the floor.  I twist us about to keep her from getting hurt (it's my fault, why should she get hurt?), and slam into the wall. 

"Are you both okay?"  Scott, who's slowly getting up from the table. 

"Yeah.  You'd better go before you set her off again."  Thank you, Sarah.  I have to wait for about a minute before I can calm down enough to let her go.  She's laughing and trying to distract me with lesbian jokes.  They're funny, but I'm wondering if something happened to my 'shield'. 

"I wonder if my getting hurt and regenerating has used up the BC in my system.  That would explain things, but I don't have a safe way to test.  Hurm." 

"I don't get it," I turn to look at her, a little distracted by how she's staring between our chests.  "The average breast size in the United States is supposed to be double-dee.  I know we're not fully grown, but we're nowhere close to average." 

"Why no, Sarah:  This isn't awkward at all."  She just laughs. 

"Well, now that we're officially late, what do you want to do?  I can't go on smelling like you."  She's smiling and I know she's not offended:  Jimmy's allergies would make it difficult for her to hug on him - and that isn't something to be tolerated, even if he's not here today. 

"I'm going to my room to change clothes and get another pill in me:  I hope that's what the problem is.  Are you coming back?" 

She nods, "Ayup." 

"Good:  I want people around when I test my theory out on Scott later." 

"Not testing on Todd, again?" 

"Not if I can help it.  If this fails, I want it to fail with Scott-  And that's not a sentence I want to finish.  Can you give me a ride home?" 

She nods, and we go to her locker so she can get her things. 

The only thing I'll say about the trip is that her car doesn't have tail slots for MORFS survivors.  Oh!  And she's not interested in getting any installed until such time as she needs them.  Even if I'm paying.  Hurm.  I take care of what I have to, and then nip back to school to wait for Sarah. 

I hang around outside and wait for her to get back, which only takes a few minutes.  She pulls up and makes it quite a dramatic entrance:  The car rolls to a smooth stop, you focus on the door opening slowly (in the movie, they'd do it in post and just slow the film.  She has to do it by just moving slowly, but I give her the win) as she puts one foot out, then follows it with the other.  Finally panning up to reveal the girl in all her glory:  Majestically standing proud with her face in the breeze, her hair billowing out behind her like a flag.  She slowly lowers her shades... and then bursts into giggles, ruining the whole effect. 

"I was all set to give you the oscar until the giggling,"  I say, waiting for her as she comes over for a hug.  I set my tail around her waist as we walk back into the building.  The office is busy, for once:  Busy enough that the secretary doesn't even blink at me when Sarah gets us passes (unexcused, but that's expected:  We don't have a good excuse) and waves us out.  

We rejoin classes after the bell (tic-tac-toe can be a very competitive game if you're not adhering to the rules), so I don't get to meet with her for a whole period (roughly an hour and a half).  Torture.  Not as bad as Phil continuing to be an @$$ about everything, but still torture. 

Mostly because I want to test my theory.  And kiss Scott.  And collect hugs. 

Okay, there are a lot of reasons I felt like I was being tortured.  I meet up with her and then we go hunting for Scott.  After scouring the halls for almost five minutes, I realize that it would have been better to just go to my locker and wait.  Okay, I get stupid where Scott's concerned.  I get that. 

They're waiting for me at my locker (just like always) and I'm trying to be all cool about just walking up to Scott and laying it on him.  Of course, I can't ever seem to get with the program whenever the word 'cool' is used. 

I'm walking towards him - and I swear I'm not trying to be seductive or anything:  Sarah's probably got that walk down pat - and I'm getting nervous because this is a test of the potential cure for the problems we'd been having with my hormones (if that's even what the problem is) and he's standing there:  Braced (because I have this habit of tackle-glomping him, I guess).  Wow!  Was that all one sentence?  Just... wow. 

Anyways, I'm starting to have trouble walking - my general nervousness is translating into a reasonable amount of fear.  Scott thinks that there's something wrong with me all of a sudden, so he starts to run towards me in an almost panic.  Julia - for whatever reason - just bursts into peals of laughter and almost falls to the floor, chortling.  I stop dead in my tracks, wondering what's going on with Jules, and Scott nearly tackles me while trying to make sure that I'm alright. 

I'm looking at him for a second, waiting for the heat to start.  Sarah's watching me like a hawk in case I get all flushed and try to get it on with my boyfriend in the hallways.  Scott's trying to speak to me while checking me for obvious injury.  "Are you okay?  I saw you stumble - do you need to lie down?" 

I stumbled?  When did I-  *focus*  I lean in to Scott slowly and take a little whiff.  Then a larger one.  Now I'm burying my nose in his neck and just smelling him.  He smells great and I can keep all my clothes on. 

We pull back for a second and Scott's trying to talk to me about something or the other.  "It w*rks!"  And then I kiss him.  Deeply. 

Right up until the pain starts in my ear.  Sarah's got a hold of both of our ears and is pulling our heads away from each other.  "I'm okay!  I'm okay!  Sorrysorry!  Leggo!" 

She does and I pull away from Scott so we can talk.  "I'm okay are you okay?  I was hoping that this was all started by my BC running out for some reason maybe because I was hurt a bit and my regen kicked in so it burned it all off so that I needed to-" 

Julia touches me on the arm.  "Breathe."  She smiles, and I breathe. 

"Sorry.  I'm just a little excited and I need to calm  down."  I stop and take a few deep breaths.  Scott thinks this would be a good time to step in.  "What are you-!"  He's maybe thinking that switching my mind off of panicking would be a good thing.  He's also (apparently) thinking that deep kissing is a calming experience. 

I'm not too sure about that, and I'm pretty sure that Sarah's going to be moving in to grab our ears again.  "Scott, I-" 

"I thought you were hurt, that you were having problems walking and suddenly needed help.  You sniff my neck and then lay one on me that I'm still trying to get over, only to say something about your BC?  What's BC?"  He's got me pinned up against the wall - leaning in close and smelling great - and his eyes are just...  I chuckle, and d*mn but that sounds sexy. 

"BC - Birth Control.  If you're going to lean in like that, I'm likely to make us very happy for a while."  I try to push him back, and I think he's trying to stand up:  We both struggle for a long moment, I guess is what I'm saying. 

"D*mn, girl," Sarah and Jules both start speaking, and Julia continues:  "If you can do that at will, you'll have every boy in school drooling after you - even if they hate MORFS survivors." 

Scott backs up a bit more and we both shake our heads a little.  I bring my tail up over my nose to use as a filter; I see him pulling his hand from his armpit and sniffing it.  Wow, I'm turned on.  I guess Scott's just dangerous to me.  Darn. 

"Clearing the pheromones?" I ask.  He nods. 

"It helps.  Took me a while to figure it out - I'm not a genius like some people I know."  He smiles to let me know he's joking.  Or something. 

"He didn't figure it out.  Simon figured it out and told him what he could do if he was getting in trouble."  Julia, who looks smug for some reason.  She would have continued, but her phone rings.  I can hear Matt's voice on the other end, and I can tell by Scott's face that he can hear Matt, too. 

It might help if Matt weren't asking Jules if she wanted to see a movie later.  Jules is going to ride with Sarah, so she can see Matt sooner. 

We step out of the school and get into the cars.  "Don't worry about her so much.  Yeah, Matt's a guinea, but he's not as bad as most, and he might not even have that particular trait.  She knows what he is, and is willing to risk it.  They're both young - she might even be older than him, come to think of it - and this isn't the sort of thing to leave a lasting scar.  Just think of it as a learning experience and be available for advice and comfort.  Okay?"  He's just looking at me, "What?" 

He starts chuckling, "Guinea?" 

"Person of Italian heritage, though he doesn't have all of the same- What?" 

"I know the word, I'm just surprised to hear you saying it.  I thought good 'Christian girls' didn't do that to other people."  He's really getting a kick out of this. 

"What, have you and Calvin been comparing notes?  I've said it before:  There are some traits that have been recognized as 'belonging' to people of an ethnicity.  It is unfortunate, but it's true.  Though a lot of men choose to be unfaithful to their significant others, people are less surprised by it being an Italian than any other.  He's still a good person in almost every other way." 

We pull into my driveway, and he parks his car.  I sit still and wait for him.  It takes him a moment, but he runs right over to hand me out.  I always (well, for the last month or so) wanted to have that happen.  He gets a kiss for a reward, and I wave to Mom as I walk up to my room.  Scott - naturally - follows me. 

"Don't you think you have something better to do than to watch me changing clothes?  Especially when Mom's going to see you following me to watch me change clothes?"  I don't turn around or even slow down, I just keep walking towards my room.  Scott peels off and goes to greet my Mother in the house. 

Boys can be such fun. 

After changing, I jump over to the house to greet Mom.  She's got Scott parked in a comfy sort of lounge chair (not the sofa):  I imagine she would like to have him in a more restrictive chair, but he needs the tail slot, too.  I greet her with a hug while she's getting tea ready (tea, Mom?  This must be serious) then plop myself down on Scott.  Scott doesn't complain at all (unless you count the soft grunt as I sat down) 

"Scott, dear:  How do you take your-  Amelia!  Get off of him!" 

"I'm very comfortable."  And I am:  I'm curled up on his torso with my tail coiled up on top of us.  She doesn't know it, but it would be nearly impossible for him to be doing anything he shouldn't:  Patagia.  She sputters a moment or so, then they get back to their conversation. 

I take a nap. 

I come back to find everyone's here and having a good talk with Mom.  I didn't know everyone liked tea.  Huh.  I used to like tea, but it doesn't like me anymore:  My body rebels against it and tries to get it all out just as quickly as it can.  *sigh*  At least I can enjoy the smell of it. 

I lay there on Scott for a moment more, then sit up and stretch.  Mom will likely want to talk to me about that, but I really needed to stretch.  And it's a lot of fun torturing Scott. 

I join the conversation and we talk for an hour or so, until Dad gets home.  I would normally get up and greet him in the kitchen, but...  Mom goes and gives him a hug, and a:  "Don't kill him, it's not his fault."  Spoil sport. 

Dad steps in and just stops.  Everyone except me greets him - Julia even gives him a hug.  I don't think he stops looking at Scott and I (though he probably returned the hug on automatic.  Dad's cool like that). 

"Amy?  Just what the h*ll do you think you're doing?" 

"Jacob Robinson!"  Mom. 

I swivel a bit so I'm facing him.  "Hi, Daddy."  I swipe him with my tail as a greeting:  He catches it and starts walking. 

"Come with me."  He's not moving slowly, so I jump up and follow.  We end up in his shop, over the garage.  He lets go of my tail and rotates to face me:  I feel like I'm in his gunsights, or something.  "Just what are you doing?"  I can tell he wants to say more, but he's waiting to see what I'm going to come up with first. 

For maybe half of a nanosecond, I think about playing with this.  Nope:  Too important.  "Scott drove me home:  My boyfriend drove me home.  I kept him from following me into my room - even though watching me change wouldn't show him much - and find him talking with Mom.  Mother is the one who put him in that chair, not me, and I doubt it was Scott." 

"And you were sitting on him... why?" 

"Boyfriend." 

*sigh*  "Amy-" 

"Boyfriend." 

He's starting to get angry.  "Amy, I know he's your boyfriend, but-" 

"Does Mom know?  Because that's not a boyfriend seat.  That's a 'Matt' seat.  She doesn't even put Jimmy there.  If you have a problem with me having a boyfriend, that's one thing:  Bring it up and let's talk it out.  But if the problem is that Scott's my boyfriend, then you need to stay out of it,"  Dad's hand drops to his side, then comes back up to rest on his belt.  I realize that I'm playing with time again and I kind of wonder why? 

Dad continues before I figure anything out.  "We both like Scott:  We both do.  We are concerned - both of us - that you're too young for him, and certainly too young for this kind of relationship.  Would you please sit down?!  You are making this difficult for me."  He backs away and tries to calm down. 

I realize that I'm not only standing, but that my fur's all poofy - my tail's even over my head like a scorpion's.  Weird.  I back up and find a spot to sit down.  Dad chuckles a little and moves a little ways away from me and sits down, too.  I'm not seeing the humor. 

He gets serious again, "You are still forbidden to see Scott:  You were told this and yet here he is, with you on his lap.  Do you - Let me finish!  Do you think that maybe that's why your Mother had him sitting in that chair?" 

"Boyfriend.  I didn't much think about why, I just saw it as wrong, and moved against it.  I am not under an injunction:  All that was swept away last night and not reinstated.  I'm not - Let me finish.  I'm not going to abide by a rule that exists only to torture us.  I'm sure you had other thoughts in mind when you originally laid the injunction, but that's how it feels.  *sigh*  If you want to talk about this some more, it would be unfair to not have Scott here as well." 

"It was not 'swept away':  Not last night, nor any night.  The seperation is not meant to torture you, it's meant to give everyone time to cool off and think!  We are going to talk about this some more, but I think it'll have to wait until you grow up!" 

Things go downhill from there.  I'm not sure how long we were shouting at each other before Mom showed up, but it took a *BOOM* from the shotgun to get us to break off. 

Dad tries to sweep me into the corner while he grabs a hammer off the bench.  I whip around and see Mom there:  WTH? 

"Are you two finished?  Shouting the same things over and over isn't really arguing, it's childishly throwing your juice on the floor so someone else can clean it up.  Amy?  Your friends are leaving:  You might want to send them off.  After that, you're to be in your room until I call you for supper.  We'll discuss this calmly," she shoots a look at Dad, "after supper.  Jake?  Stay here for a moment:  I need to say some things to you and I don't think you want her to hear them." 

I'm off.  I catch my friends standing by their cars.  For once, I remember that Scott's still hurt - so I glomp his sister instead.  She's laughing as I help her up off the car.  Everyone moves in for a hug and I try my best (my tail - for once - is not quite long enough to reach around everyone). 

"I'm under orders to go to my room and await my punishment," I smile, "If you don't see me tomorrow..."  They laugh.  Everyone disperses to their cars and start to leave.  Okay:  Scott's delayed a little bit by searching for my tonsils. 

He's very thorough. 

When I come back to myself, they're already gone.  I go and wait in my room for supper.  'Go to your room' doesn't always w*rk, but it's worth a shot.  It gives everyone time to cool off and think things over. 

I run the gamut.  I start off contrite (really).  I move quickly into morose, then travel through anger quickly (who are they to... They're my parents.  I shut up), and settle into a light dread.  I've been holding steady there for about fifteen minutes until they come out of the garage and make their way into the house. 

Mom calls me in for supper, and I can tell they've been using their time well.  Seriously, guys?  I'm being punished for their inconsistencies in dealing with this - admittedly unusual - situation, while they go off and have sex in... *sniff* Dad's truck.  Nice.  Anger's coming back. 

We all eat quietly.  No one talking.  At all.  I can tell that this is for me, so I can continue to stew and fret.  I get it.  I am stewing, I'm just not fretting. 

I try to hold my anger back until I can hear what they're going to say.  It's possible that I'm mistaken about things, and that they simply decided on things quickly:  Leaving time for other activities.  I finish eating and wait for them to start talking. 

"Amy," finally, "You are still grounded.  You are to be in school or here for a month.  You will have no one coming over for that time, and no contact with Scott.  You-" 

"Seriously?!  You're still going wi-" 

"AMY!!"  Dad might just be as angry as I've ever seen him.  Usually, that would make me cringe and back off.  Today, it just makes me mulish.  "You will be quiet and listen!  Your Mother and I have-" 

"'Decided immediately on your punishment and then moved quickly to celebration sex in my truck.'  Take a shower if you want to hide it.  If I'm not going to have a say in this:  Write it down.  I'll read it later."  Dad gets up to stop me, but he's too late:  I'm already in my room before I unclench

Mom's on the intercom when I come back.  "-my?  Answer me, please.  I don't think she's going to answer.  No!  Don't use your key.  It's her room.  If we take it away like this...  Jake!  Leave her be.  Okay, Amy:  I'l write up our arguments-" 

"You mean, 'edicts'," 

"-and leave them by your door tonight.  We do love you.  I hope you know that." 

"I do." 

*

Dad

"You don't have to say it:  You're right, I was wrong.  I didn't think she'd react like...  I didn't think.  I can't back down from this:  She was wrong, and needs to find a better way to deal with trouble.  We'll see about easing the restrictions and allowing her friends here sooner, okay?  Thanks. 

"Yes, I know I'm stubborn.  I love you, Lily-fair." 

 

Chapter THIRTY-SIX

October 16, 2009

I am stubborn.  I want you to know this before I continue:  I am well aware that I am stubborn.  My Father is also stubborn.  My Mother is trying to keep us civil, and not have a breakdown while doing it. 

It's been a little over two weeks since my incarceration began.  My friends are being supportive, and Scott and I have tried really hard to abide by the rules.  He's been sending me gifts (nothing much, really.  Though the series of condolence cards were great: 'Sorry for your loss' seems to cover a lot of territory if you've an open mind) and such - but we've had no contact.  No letters, notes, phone calls, texts... nothing.  I don't even have the cards:  Jules just shows them to me. 

Jules has helped immensely, telling me about how Scott feels and generally shoring up my morale.  Yet another instance of my friends coming to my rescue.  I had visions the first couple of days of me going off into the wilderness, Thoreau style.  I don't write poetry, so I don't know what I'd do

I have a few weeks of emails that I've written to Scott - but not sent.  It started as an apology, and then moved on into one of those cheesy letter series?  You know, where the girl writes to her beloved every day (sometimes more), and then ends up commiting suicide, or something?  Not planning that ending, mind you:  But it was fun for a bit.  Now it's just a journal with my thoughts and such.  I'll send it to him when I'm not under the injunction. 

Home... hasn't been so good of late.  Part of that is my fault, and I know it.  Part of it (a big part) is my parents' (read: Dad) refusal to bend over any of this.  The note Mom sent was edited by Dad, I can tell. 

'Amy:  We want to start his by telling you we love you, and are doing this for your best.  While we like Scott very much, we fear that you two are going way (those parts I feel are more Dad's, I'm going to italicize.  You're welcome) too fast, and need to cool itTowards that end, and so you can focus more on school and getting yourself together, we're providing you with the following rules: 

1.)  Until the end of October, you are to have no contact with Scott.  If he respects you, he'll wait.  (seriously, not even allowed to send letters) 

2.)  Until October 15, 2009, you are to have no visitors to our house.  After this point we'll see if you should be allowed company

3.)  Until the end of October, you are to be either at school, at home, or in transit. 

4.)  Meals at home will be taken at the table, where you will discuss your day and your feelings with us. 

Consequences:  Failure to comply with the rules above will be punished with extensions, removal of privelages, removal of property, or whatever we deem necessary at the time

We love you, and wish the best for you.  Breakfast is at 5:30. 

You see?  There is no discussion, and any deviation is punished.  I mentioned my stubbornness?  I resigned myself to following the letter of the law.  I didn't ask for my friends to come over yesterday, though I know Dad was waiting for it.  I am determined to give them everything they asked for. 

And not much else. 

I've taken to not eating breakfast, so I can remove a formal sitting with them staring at me.  I don't say much to them (read:  him), and they've taken to not talking to me at all. 

The first interrogation (meal) I didn't wait to be asked how my day went, I got my food, sat down and:  "Prisoner's day started at 4:30 AM.  Prisoner prepared herself for the coming day at school.  An outfit was selected - it is the one being worn now - and then prisoner washed herself in the shower provided.  Prisoner then sat and waited for the set time and went to have morning meal.  Prisoner feels like this is a waste of time, and that she is being unfairly punished.  She also feels like she should skip breakfast and travel directly to the school.  Prisoner plans on returning to her cell upon completion of her schooling this day.  Do the wardens have any wisdom they wish to impart to the prisoner?"  I started eating.  Mom was trying not to cry, and looking at Dad - who refused to look at me.  I finished eating and left. 

I could hear her crying as I walked out, but I will not cave to that man.  I can't.  School happened, and I went to supper for more of the same.  Mom asked me a few questions about my day, and I answered them shortly (but I couldn't be mean to MomDad, on the other hand...)  until she asked me how I felt about being punished.  Dad's cheek jumped a little, but he didn't say anything. 

I caved a little when I talked to her, and told her about what I'd done.  I started to explain myself about the BC pills and how I thought they were helping with my urges when Dad went off

I don't know how long he'd been reining himself in about this, but he laid into me about control and how I never had any and Mom's crying and it being my fault...  So I went to my room and just cried myself empty. 

I woke up the next day and stopped.  I stopped sharing with them anything.  I stopped answering when they asked me questions.  I simply showed up when I had to and went back to my room. 

I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have friends.  Matt had snuck into my room while I was eating one night and left me a phone.  I'd gone over the rules with them and he'd found a loophole.  I talked with my friends and told them what I was going through.  They listened and provided me with encouragement. 

Jules called me one night and told me to keep quiet.  I could hear Scott in the background trying to compose a song to me (I didn't even know he could sing), she went back to her room and told me goodnight.  I said thank you and hung up. 

Anyways:  Back to now.  I walk up to the practice yard to watch the Band.  (side note:  I love the cold)  I'm just glad it isn't raining.  I meet my Band friends on their way in and ignore my enemies (how did I even get enemies, anyways?). 

I realize that I'm staring at the door, waiting for Scott and Julia:  I'm not allowed contact but that doesn't mean I can't look.  Sarah's probably asking me a question, but I'm not paying attention to her.  I'm staring.  At the door.  Still

"Something's wrong." 

"What?  Are you sure?  Just because they haven't shown up yet is no reason... to jump to... conclusions?  I mean, the bell hasn't even-"  The bell rings. 

I can't concentrate the whole day.  My little trick doesn't even help:  I need to be able to concentrate on a question for that to w*rk:  And I can't concentrate at all. 

I'm waiting by my locker for my friends to arrive, hoping that they know something.  I see Sarah texting someone, and my hopes rise - and then fall again when she curses. 

"Know anything yet?" 

"Nope.  D*mnit!  I'm going out there to see what's going on.  You coming?" 

"Can't."  She looks at me, like:  'Seriously?'  "If I go and it turns out to be nothing, I'm screwed.  I can't let him win.  Not for nothing.  If you find anything solid - anything - please let me know.  *sigh*  You know where I'll be." 

Home.  I *sigh* when Mom waves me over.  Then I go over.  "Yes?" 

"Your Father found your phone.  He hit the roof, and I had to talk him down from coming down on you."  I just stare at her.  "He took the phone and is going to want to talk to you when he gets home." 

That is so not good.  "The phone is not mine.  It is being lent to me by my friends so they can help me where my family is not.  I have broken no rules.  You have no right to take it.  I would like it returned.  Please." 

"He has it with him, and we have every right while you live under our... No!  I didn't mean-" 

I strip off my tunic and underwear in a flash.  "Problem solved.  You can't follow your own rules.  Neither will I.  I'm going to look for Scott.  Tell the warden when he returns."  She's starting to cry, but I can't let that stop me. 

I have to find him.  I scamper to Matt's house (it's closest) and see if he's there, or if there's any coordination.  Or anything. 

Matt's not there, and his Mom hasn't heard from him since he left this morning.  She starts calling around, offering me a bowl of nuts while I wait.  I snicker a little at the implied stereotype but dive right in:  I haven't eaten yet and I love nuts. 

She gets ahold of all of them and tells us where we all are (okay:  She tells me where they are.  All she can tell them is that I'm joining the search). 

She also tells me what happened. 

Scott's parents went to that town hall meeting last night.  All sorts of people were there, including a number of people not from this area.  They'd been brought in as 'experts' on the situation at hand. 

People all across the nation are fighting the Supreme Court's ruling about MORFS survivors.  There have been riots in some areas and people have been killed (both sides, but the news doesn't seem to cover it.  Funny, huh). 

So a group of MORFS haters got together and looked at the ruling, deciding that the wording is very similar to the Emancipation Proclamation, at least in scope.  So they decided that they can treat us like second class citizens, and gave some interesting ideas as to the legal status of us survivors. 

Scott's parents came home and emancipated him:  Right there on the spot.  Took away everything that they'd bought him (which was nearly everything) and kicked him - naked - out into the night.  No phone, no car, no support.  'He's an adult, now.' 

Jules left with him, and though they didn't strip her they did take her phone.  So they've been alone out there for a night.  They should  have been able to contact someone by now.  Mrs. Sciorisio showed me where Scott's house is on the map (she didn't know and had to find it) and I was off. 

If you travel by scamper, you need to develop a system of waypoints so you know where you're going.  I was using the 'river' (it's really a creek, but it's all the river we have here) and making decent time when I hear laughter... and someone crying quietly. 

I veer off to the right and go up higher in the trees when I feel I'm getting close.  Then I see them. 

One of them is standing sort of sentry:  Occasionally looking about but mostly watching the show.  Another has his foot on Scott's neck while casually pointing his gun at Scott's head:  His attention is also on the show. 

The last of them is furiously raping Jules.  He's just finishing as I arrive, driving my toeclaws into the sentry's neck and ripping down and away.  I launch at the guy on Scott and take his throat just as he fires.  I can only hope I jostled his arm because I really can't stop to check right now. 

The rapist is starting to get up and trying to bring his gun around when I clench.  He stops moving and I claw him three times or so, almost taking his head off.  I unclench and time streams past me. 

Jules is crawling over to Scott when I come back:  She's got a broken jaw and arm, and her hips don't seem to w*rk right.  I catch up with her and carry her to Scott.  She's still crying but clearly says:  "Call Daddy."  before passing out.  I take the phone from her hand (it looks like it was one of theirs). 

I call Dad.  It's a good thing that I know important contact numbers, like my friends, or my Dad.  I don't carry a phone with me, so I have to know their numbers if I want to call them.  It only really becomes important if you don't have your phone.  Like now. 

He answers, "Hello?  Who is-" 

"Daddy!  I've found them but there were some people trying to kill them and-  Oh!  My!  God!  They shot him in the neck!  Go to the Shire Road bridge, follow the creek West until you get to the red rock in the water.  We're on the South side of that.  Hurry!"  I drop the phone and try to hold back the blood that's just oozing at this point. 

I'm hoping that this isn't a bad wound, that the blood's not flowing so slowly because there's not much of it left, but... 

I start praying.  I place my hand on his neck and wrap myself around him and... 

*

Dad

This is not how I imagined tonight going.  I found Amy's phone and saw red.  How could she-!?  Of course she found a way, Jacob.  She's not an idiot.  Did you really think she'd just shrivel up and die because you weren't suporting her? 

And that's what it boils down to:  I wasn't supporting her.  I should have been supporting her.  I should not have been making sure that her life fell apart, and then hoping that she'd - for whatever reason - turn to me for support. 

I didn't have that as my reason, but that's what all my motivations boil down to. 

So.  At the height of my stupidity, I drive my daughter away from her Mother and I - and then blame her for Lily's tears

You're an idiot, Jacob. 

Now, I'm hoping I can get to wherever she is - before Scott (I'm hoping it's Scott) bleeds out.  Who shot him?  Shot?  What weapon?  Is he even going to live?  I don't really think I'll want to be around if he doesn't live.  I know she's going to need support, but I don't think she'll want it from me. 

'Lord?  We don't talk much anymore - that's my fault:  I recognize this - but there's a boy out there who really needs your help.  We all of us need you, even though we don't admit it.  *sigh*  Regardless, If you could see your way to making this go right...' 

I can see the scene now.  Three people scatterd in pools of blood, with a large mass of fur, and...  Dear Lord, is that Julia?  No one's moving, and Julia's barely breathing.  Amy's still warm, and her tail's hard to move.  She and Scott aren't breathing at all, though. 

Julia's got a phone showing, with a message texted to me?  'Time stopped.  Need hospital.  Hurryhurryhurry.'  Huh. 

Roll with it, Jacob.  I call the hospital and tell them the dilemma, saying that I'll meet them where I can, but that a large stretcher will be needed.  For whatever reason (shock, habit, Lord's will) I add my contact code from my time in service.  They scramble. 

One minute later, my phone informs me that I should wait at the site for transpo.  Habit, this time:  I wait by the creek and pull out my flashlight, the one my uncle gave me in his will.  I'm rubbing the spot where I'd killed Amy's squirrel with my thumb, idly wondering why I'm watching the sky when I'm no longer in service. 

It's not long before I hear chopper blades - the sound's different, but still welcome.  The evac team collects my kids (and my keys) and bundles us all in the chopper for the ride to the hospital.  One of them collects the car and will bring it along for after. 

It's really nice to be working with professionals, again.  I tell them about the message, and they roll with it, just giving each other looks as they soldier on. 

Yep.  Nice to be among professionals again. 

 

Chapter THIRTY-SEVEN

October 17, 2009

...I can hear people moving around me, and talking.  They're talking about something.  Someone needs to wake up?  Who needs to wake up?  I'm still groggy and thinking about going back to bed:  I'm very comfy here.  Someone's flashing a light in my eyes:  "Gah!"  Then I feel someone jabbing me in the leg with something sharp.  "Hey!" 

"Hey, Twitch!  Sorry about that.  We needed to get a needle in you and that was the best place, other than your neck," Calvin?  Why's Calvin in my room?  "Can you let go of Scott now?  They really need to w*rk on him, okay?"  Why's Scott in my room?  I am so very grounded when Daddy finds... Scott!  I uncurl from him and see the doctors and nurses surge into the vacated space. 

I'm carried quickly and firmly away from them all, placed gently on a gurney and checked out.  I'm trying to fight sleep (why am I so sleepy?) and find out what's happened to -  "Jules?  Is she okay?" 

"You're all being looked at.  We'll decide how best to treat you, so please be quiet."  Wow.  This doctor's a pr*ck.  He does at least seem to be good at his job:  He's barking orders and everyone's jumping.  Someone puts a straw in my mouth and squeezes.  Gatorade - or something like it  - gushes into my mouth and I swallow.  I've never liked the taste (still don't) but I can feel my energy coming up, and I can start to think a little better.  I drink some more. 

I can finally look around and start to make some sense of things:  I can see the doctors w*rking on Scott - they don't seem frantic so I guess he'll be all right (I hope);  I can see Jules, finally - she looks a bit shocky and she's been crying a lot.  And I can see Dad. 

Dad's arguing with a Police officer about something (there's too much noise interference for me to hear) and he doesn't seem happy.  They go back and forth for a moment or so, then Dad sees me looking at him.  He kind of shoves the officer aside and comes right to me. 

I've got a few nurses taking samples from me, and I've still got an I.V. in my leg - else I would have gone to him.  He doesn't stop until he's hugging me:  And everything feels right again.  One of the nurses tries to shoo him off, but desists after he looks at her. 

"Amy, I-" 

"Daddy I'm sorry!  I didn't mean to disobey you but you wouldn't listen to me when I was explaining.  I know it's hard for you to figure things out - it's hard for me, too! - but I'm trying to be good about this.  I don't like you hating me:  It sucks!  And I wish things could be like they were - not when I was Eric:  I'm not Eric - but before we were having trouble and now they've shot Scott and Julia's been raped and they were going to kill her tooandIdon'tknowwhattodoDaddyI'msosorry!" 

He just holds me and makes those nonsense sounds that everyone uses when they don't know what to say.  I tense up as I hear the doctor saying something about 'all these d*mn furry freaks', but Dad didn't hear him. 

Calvin heard him.  He ushers that doctor out of the Emergency ward so fast I swear they leave a light trail (not really, but:  Wow.  Calvin's in a hurry).  Dad's holding me tighter.  It's almost hurting, and he keeps squeezing.  Getting hard to breathe, so:  "Daddy?" 

He releases.  "Oh, jeeze, honey!  I'm sorry.  Are you okay?"  I nod.  "Who was this that shot Scott?"  He's being very careful to not mention Jules. 

"There were three of them.  They had Scott pinned down, and one of them... was...  Anyways!  Three of them.  Don't worry about them.  They're dead."  I nuzzle back into him and let him comfort me.  "I wish I could purr." 

That shocks a laugh out of him.  "Wha-  Where did that come from?" 

"It just seems so neat.  I wish I could purr.  I wouldn't give up flying for it, or my tail.  Love the tail.  But it would be cool to purr, too.  *chuckle*  Guess I'm greedy." 

He chuckles too, then:  "You killed them?" quietly. 

"Three of them with shotguns and one of them was-  Yes.  They are as dead as I could make them and get to Scott."  I think he senses that I really don't want to talk about this.  He stops asking, anyways.  "How's Mom?"  Quietly. 

"She was a right mess when I got home:  She laid into me before I even got out of the car."   He looks down at me, "I'll admit I didn't handle that well, but can we call a cease fire, or something?  I don't want to go through that again.  But I hate losing."  I don't see how he expects me to not hear that, given that my head is resting on his chest. 

"I'll probably be here for a while, given the circumstances.  Could you call her and tell her I'm fine?" 

He shifts about for a second. then:  "Here,"  Cellphone.  "I'm sorry.  I should not have searched your room without probable cause.  Your Mother-  *sigh*  Your Mother told me to leave off your room.  She was concerned about you, and I took it as liberty to search.  I should not have." 

"S'okay.  I love you." 

I wake up when he tries to slide out from under me.  I get up to let him go, then realize that I need to go.  Badly.  I don't know where the bathroom is and I don't see anyone I know, so I cast about for a second.  A nurse notices my rising panic.  "Need something?"  I'm not sure she could make her words any flatter

"Bathroom?"  She points it out and I scamper off.  Business done, I return to the nurse to ask after Scott and Jules.  Scott's in the sub-basement and Jules is up on the fourth floor.  I go see Jules first, figuring I'll be spending more time with Scott. 

Jules' door has two Police outside of it.  Makes sense, I guess.  "Hi.  Can I see her?"  The officers look at each other and let me past.  Okay:  One of the officers looks at the other one and lets me past.  The other looks at me like he wants to shoot me.  I make sure to pull my tail through quickly as I enter. 

Julia's lying on her bed, curled up as much as she can.  She's shivering despite being wrapped up in her blankets and I can smell her fear from the door.  I go over to her:  "Jules?"  Why is this room so cold?  I think about shaking her, but think about how I'd like to be woken up from a nightmare. 

So I drape my tail over her.  She starts a moment, then relaxes a little and grabs on to it like she's going to fall off a cliff if she slips off.  I guess I'll see Scott later.  I climb up behind her and just hug her, pulling her into my patagia.  Heh.  My turn for nonsense noises. 

I run out after a minute or so, so I start to sing to her:  Lullabies, mostly.  I mix in a couple hymns for variety, and even some more popular music I've heard on Scott's radio while he drives me home.  (I know what you're thinking:  'It's like a five minute drive to your house, tops.  How can you have anything memorized?'  I'm just that good, I guess.  I've always been good with memorizing music.  It's a gift.  'Thank you, Lord') 

"My parents aren't exactly God loving:  I don't get to hear those much." 

"Hey, Jules.  <pause>  How do you ask how someone is without asking how someone is?"  She chuckles. 

"I'm okay:  I knew you'd be there.  Just had to wait it out."  She feels very fragile right now, so I tighten my hug.  She giggles and turns around, "I know you're not gay, but thank you for the cuddles."  Gay? 

"Jules?" 

"I don't know what I am:  I just know it'll be a long time before I can look at a boy in that way again," her hands slide up.  "You have nice boobs.  Soft."  I'm not quite in a panic, but I'm thinking about it.  "Relax.  I'm not trying to seduce you, I'm just trying to distract myself,"   she sighs (wrongly, but I'm not really thinking about correcting her just now, you know?),  "Besides, they are soft.  And bigger than mine.  Only a girl for a year and you think you're allowed to have bigger boobs then me?" 

I'm so glad she's joking about this.  "They were on sale.  I got a discount because of my condition." she starts giggling, "I mean, they were practically free."  She's lost it now. 

We joke about things for a while, and I'm glad she feels better.  I'm happy that I can help her feel better.  I don't do well with feeling useless.  "I'm gonna go cheer your brother up.  Hugs!"  I collect my hug, and walk out the door. 

There are three more officers outside of the door when I leave, and they look angry.  "Um, hi?"  They don't move or anything, I guess they were having an argument or something.  Okay.  I start to leave for the elevator. 

"Amy Robinson, you are under-"  One of them - the first angry one - starts, but is interrupted by the other first cop. 

"No, Barry:  She's not.  She's to go about her business and we'll go about ours,"  To me:  "Move along."  I skedaddle.  I don't know what's going on with the cops, but I don't want to stick around to find out, either. 

The elevator takes me down to the lobby, where I collect an escort to the basement.  My escort this time is a surly male orderly, and I don't think he likes me.  He's standing in the far corner of the cage when I enter, and uses his key to let us down.  He doesn't get out of the elevator when we're at the bottom, either. 

I feel better when the doors close and he's on his way back up.  'Just what has been going on?' 

Scott's in his old room, and he's got a lot of machines hooked up to him.  Still, he stirs when I enter:  He wakes up completely when I grab his hand.  "Hey, gorgeous."  It's not the strongest greeting I've ever had, but it hits me the hardest.  I've got tears in my eyes and all I want to do is lie down with him and sleepHere isn't as good as Home, but it'll do in a pinch. 

I look at all the tubes and wires and wonder if  I can do this without hurting him:  He smiles.  "I had them hook everything up on this side, so I would be free to cuddle if someone wanted to.  Calvin thought it was a good idea."  I nod and am on the other side of the bed before I finish.  I see the clear spot and wiggle myself in to rest my head on his arm.  He curls around me and falls asleep. 

I'm not that far behind him. 

 

Chapter THIRTY-EIGHT

October 18, 2009

I wake up once or twice when the nurses come in to check on him, but sleep well enough next to Scott.  I discover when I wake up that he's already awake, and been watching me.  "Good morning."  I stretch up against him.  It's nice to see that I have an effect on him.  Makes me feel validated, or something. 

"Good morning, beautiful."  He sounds a lot  better than he did last night.  "I wish you'd do that a bit more, and also that you'd stop doing it for a day or two."  I chuckle. 

"I'll try, but Jaqi's right:  You are a sexy beast."  I can't seem to stop myself from teasing him - say dragging my tail over him as I walk (sway) to the phone.  I hear him groan as I pick it up. 

I'm stopped from dialing by the elevator dinging.  The doors open to admit Calvin and his wife (Susan.  I still think that's hilarious) and a service cart.  I can smell that the cart has food on it and usher them right inside Scott's room.  Scott's sitting up and getting ready to eat.  I have to laugh:  The picture of a wolf-boy sitting up in bed - with a napkin tied around his neck (part of the bedsheet, but you couldn't see it from where I was standing), and holding his (watering) mouth open.  They must have thought it funny, too:  Laughter. 

Scott gripes as Cal insists on checking him out before he gets to eat while I spend some time talking to Susie and try to explain why I smile when I see her (Calvin wouldn't).  I wouldn't say that she finds it funny, but at least she's not offended by it. 

They sit down and eat with us, and we have a lovely time talking about everything: Politics, the MORFS craze, lobbyists, religion (that one got a little heated:  Scott and Suzie seem to think that all the world's evils stem from religion, and through that:  God.  I disagreed, and we left it at that), and the like. 

Calvin eventually has to go on shift, so they say their farewells and distribute hugs before departing.  A doctor's getting off the elevator as they're getting on it, so things are a little confusing for a moment:  They get it squared away and leave. 

The new doctor (nametag says 'Hoyt') starts to check Scott out, and remarks that his recovery has been phenomenal.  "This is really amazing!  I've never seen anything like it!  Do you think that maybe you've found a new ability of sorts?  Would you be willing to test it?  I'm just-" 

"Doc!  Hi!"  Scott had been trying to break in, and finally had to yell.  "I don't know what it was - maybe it was the great food you've been feeding me.  What's the prognosis?  Will I live?" 

"Hmm?  Oh!  Yes!  You're completely stable and partly healed.  I wish I knew how it'd happened, but...  You're free to go.  I'll settle your paperw*rk and you'll be out in less than an hour, I'd say.  I'll leave you to arrange transportation.  Fascinating!" 

I'm absolutley beaming until I see the despair on Scott's face - and I remember:  Scott doesn't have a home.  We look at each other and I go to the phone.  Scott just collapses on his bed in the classic 'despair' pose. 

I dial '9' again, and get the desk, again.  The phone rings at home and Mom answers:  "Robinson's." 

"Mom?  I'm still at the hospital wi-  Yes, they're fine.  I'm ho-  I don't know but she seemed fine, and I-  Yes:  She'll likely need a lot of counseling, but-  I'm aware of it.  Cou- I know I didn't ne-  Mom!  Hi!  Something happened and Scott is mostly better, at least better enough that they're cutting him loose, probably Jules as well.  He was kicked out of his house-  Yes!  I know his Mother's a b*tch would you please just listen to me?!  They don't have any place to stay!  I wonder if we cou-  We can?  Yes!  Thankyouthankyouthankyou!  We'll talk more when we get home.  You're sending Dad?  Okay, we'll be waiting.  Love you, Mom!" 

"Scott!  I just talked to my Mother and-  What's wrong?"  He's just staring at the ceiling.  I run over.  "Scott!  Are you hurt?  Should I call the do-" 

"My family kicked me out because of MORFS.  My sister got raped because of MORFS.  I got shot because of MORFS," he glares at me, "You get MORFS and your parents move the heavens and the Earth for you:  They're even going to take us in - your boyfriend and his sister - because why?  What makes your family so weird?" 

I realize that he's not glaring at me, just remembering his family, I guess.  "Families stick together.  It's one of the tenets of having a family.  You take the cr*p that the world sends you and you stay together.  Little things like this aren't even worth talking about."  I smile.  "I imagine that Dad will have some pretty stringent safeguards set to keep us from any hanky-panky, so if you want any serious kissing, you should get it now, before he shows up." 

He shakes his head at me, but smiles and gets up.  I've mentioned that I can't think seriously when he's around, yes?  I'm only aware of the passage of time when soneone grabs my tail.  The part where it joins my butt.  That part. 

I go into overdrive:  I'm no longer me.  You see, my brain - which was already on vacation - gets all sorts of new signals telling it to get my body ready to mate. 

So it does. 

I sort of come back to Julia hauling me back off of Scott, who's really trying to not fall in (I imagine that I'm pumping out a large bit of pheromones right now, so his body's likely to be getting ready as well).  I panic, kicking Scott away from me and trying to get behind Jules.  It doesn't last long, this respite:  I'm getting to be fairly disgusting, with fluids coming out of me making it look like I'm peeing a little. 

Scott's eyes go wide and he staggers towards the elevator - either to get distance or forgetting that you need a key to open it.  "J-jules?  G-g-get-t.  Out-t-t-t."  I'm hugging myself as hard as I can and wrapping my tail around me as insurance.  She pauses for a second, then goes to help her brother. 

I rush over and slam the door, trying not to think about Scott being so close.  It hurts, my blood's on fire and I can hardly think.  I don't know how long I sit there shaking before I go to the phone and dial '9'. 

"You don't have to dial-" 

"I n-need a tranquil-l-l-izer.  N-now!  T-t-they're-r-r-r-read-dy t-to go!  I.  Need.  Tr-tr-.  Sleep!  P-p-please-s-s-s!"  I'm crying now, I hurt so bad.  It's only a year or two before Calvin shows up with some orderlies.  One of the orderlies sparks me and I lunge at him.  I bury my face in his neck and use my toeclaws (sorry, Mr. Orderly) to rip his pants off.  Need the pants off before we can...  He's terrified and going into shock when I feel the needle going in. 

Things start to go black... pretty... quickly... 

*

Calvin

What is the hell is wrong with Twitch?  Thank God I brought some backup:  I didn't even see her move and she had Reynolds bleeding and stripped.  I got the needle into her while she was distracted, and that's all she wrote. 

Matthews used his shot on the injured orderly, who gratefully went under as well. 

"What the fuck just happened?"  Matthews.  I've told him I don't appreciate foul language, but I kind of understand. 

I kind of sympathize, for that matter. 

"She's off her BC regimen," my head whips around to see her boyfriend, Scott.  He's slowly coming towards the room.  I wave off Matthews, who is geting set to remove him from the area. 

"Chill, man:  He's her boyfriend," back to Scott, "BC regimen?"  That doesn't make sense, unless... 

"Birth Control.  It stops her from reacting to everyone's pheromones and going crazy.  Jules - my sister - didn't know about her tail, and somehow set her off."  He's just standing outside the room and staring at her. 

Lightbulb.  "Must be rough, being affected by all those smells like that.  They effect you, too?"  *nod*  "You know what she's on?  The name of her doctor? *sigh*  Okay, I'll call around." 

Twenty minutes later, and she's all doped up for her trip, and her BC shot has been delivered.  Scott's been wearing some clothes borrowed from stores, so they can test her against his pheromones, just to be sure. 

"Everything's in the bag.  Let me know if she has an adverse reaction to anything, okay?" 

Reynolds' wife isn't nearly as complacent as Reynolds himself is.  She wants to have Amy brought up on charges of rape, and sentenced to a gas chamber so she can throw a match. 

Such a sweet lady. 

*sigh*  Twitch's file just keeps getting bigger. 

*

I wake up in my bed, and it hasn't been that long - less than an hour?  I can hear my parents talking about something or the other.  I feel drugged, but it doesn't bother me so much.  That I'm strapped down bothers me some, but I understand. 

I try to talk and fail due to lack of moisture.  My head is pounding, and I really need to use my bathroom.  I need to get someone in here to talk to me, or at least get me something to drink and a portajohn. 

So I chitter. 

Mom comes in, followed by Dad - and he's carrying a sealed baggie with (I'm guessing) some of Scott's clothes in it.  Including his underwear.  Seriously?  My tail is lashing about a little - I'm trying to point to the sink (which is down two levels) and trying to talk with a dry throat.  Mom picks up on it and leaves for the kitchen. 

Dad steps over to me with the bag:  "They gave you a shot at the hospital, and it should do the same thing as those pills.  I have the clothes Scott was wearing:  So when you're ready, we'll do the test."  I nod.  It's a good thing to have a support group when you're down - have I mentioned that? 

Mom comes back with my water, and:  "I guess I'm ready."  Dad steps over and opens the bag.  For what it is, he's making it into a real ritual:  Solemn expression and everything.  Finally, he opens the bag containing Scott's shirt and undershorts. 

I just take a deep breath, putting my nose right into the bag.  It's surprising how not-gross it is.  I can even tell that they're a little dirty, but it doesn't bother me.  Thankfully, it doesn't set me off, either.  "I'm good."  My head still hurts, but I don't want to pop out a dozen kids just yet, either. 

Dad releases my restraints - socks and bungee cords (I'm glad I passed:  Those 'restraints' wouldn't have stopped me before I got MORFs) while Mom gets me to eat something.  My headache is gone by the time Scott (tentatively) comes into my room. 

I move slowly but steadily into his arms and just breathe him.  He pauses for a second (I can't really blame him) and does the same.  I giggle a little when he whuffs my ear, but that's it.  I realize something that's been sort of in the back of my mind for a while:  We're both standing here naked, and Mom hasn't thrown a fit.  Cool. 

"Your Dad's fixing up a room in their basement, just as soon as he can get a metal door with a deadbolt."  I can feel him smiling, and Dad's got a wicked smile of his own as I turn to him. 

"Thank you both, for this."  They come over and hug us both, then invite Jules into the hug.  She joins, but moves around to the opposite side of Dad.  Maybe she just wanted to hug me.  Dunno. 

"Can I sleep with someone?  Please?  I don't-  I don't want to  be alone.  I know they're gone:  I know it.  I just..." 

"Sure.  I'll stay with you.  Sleep easy."  My mouth's talking without me again.  I should have that looked at. 

"Thanks." 

Everyone else files out of my room, leaving me and Jules alone.  I drag an extra set of blankets out of the closet and make a pile on the floor by my bed.  "You ready?  I'm not tired yet, but I'll stay with you." 

"You're not going to be in your bed?  It's your bed.  I can't just take it from-" 

I interrupt with my tail.  "I'm giving it to you, just for tonight.  Besides, Dad rigged the chains so they'll release if more than two hundred pounds is on my bed:  He wanted to discourage nocturnal visitors.  And this is before he knew about Scott."  I smile and she returns it.  She climbs into bed and gets comfortable.  I lie down and drape my tail over her, moving it about until I can hear her protest.  

"Gah!  Not in the face!"  We giggle and she goes to sleep.  I spend a long while thinking about Scott, but I think I'll keep those thoughts to myself.  G'night. 

 

Chapter THIRTY-NINE

October 19, 2009

Last night was a mistake, I see that now.  She wrapped her fist around my tail and proceeded to roll over.  I finally 'convinced' her to let it go, but the pain lasted for almost a minute:  Until the swelling went down enough for the bones to realign.  Ouch.  She 'woke up' screaming once and I almost broke the bed trying to comfort her so she could relax back into sleep. 

Except, she didn't actually wake up the first time.  She was just acting out the nightmare, or something.  She's calm enough without mangling my tail, so I try to get to sleep. 

After failing for an hour, I turn on my computer and play a mind-numbing game for a while, just to see if I can get back to sleep.  The stupid game wakes my brain up just enough to keep it interested, and I finally give up on it just before my alarm clock goes off.  Which startles Jules right from sleep into a scream.  When I try (with slowed reactions from lack of sleep) to calm her back down, the bed breaks.  On my foot. 

She's clinging to me for dear life while I'm trying to get my (broken/shattered) foot out from under my bed without cursing.  She finally calms down enough to realize that I'm trying not to scream for her to get off the bed so I can get my foot back.  She does, and I pull my foot out. 

It's a bloody, mangled mess that has Julia blowing chunks... all over my bed.  I take a moment to try and get my foot sort of in the right shape so it'll heal right (it does.  It just takes ten minutes longer than I'd like. 

I get her showered and wrapped (she only has the one set of clothes, and it is nasty), then take her over to the main house for breakfast.  Mom doesn't look any better than I do, and I wonder why:  She didn't make breakfast (not complaining, it would just have been an answer), so I ask her.  "Mom?  Why're you so tired?" 

She smiles and comes over for a hug, then notices that I'm not dressed.  "Amy!  Where are your clothes?!  Go right now and get dressed!  Scott will be up here in just a-" 

"Somebody call me?"  Scott looks good.  He's just as 'naked' as I am, but it looks like he got some sleep, at least.  I go over to him and give him a hug, tail and all.  He leans down to me and says those sweet words:  "You look terrible.  Did you get any sleep?"  I shake my head, ready to pass out right here and now.  "Would a shower help?"  I nod.  "Okay, let's go get a shower for you.  C'mon." 

Mom's probably ready to blow a gasket right now, but I'm too tired to care.  The shower - which Scott joins me in, btw - starts out really freakin' cold - then warms up so I can get clean.  Okay:  We end up cleaning each other, but it was (mostly) harmless. 

I get dressed while Scott watches.  It's normally nothing and only takes a moment, but with Scott there...  With my brain reengaged, I realize what I've been doing.  It doesn't bother me so much that I stop, but I at least know what's going on.  "C'mon, peeper.  Let's go see what Mom's got for you to wear." 

He plays at looking hurt for a moment, then gets confused.  "You think your Mom's got some pants for me?" 

"She looked as tired as I am, and I don't think it was Dad who kept her up all night.  I'd be very surprised if she didn't have something for you for at least today." 

Julia has a new set of clothes when we get back inside, so I guess I was right.  Mom's a little steamed at us for going off and doing what we did, but she calms down (sort of) after I assure her that nothing happened.  Scott gets dressed in some of Dad's old clothes she'd cut a tail hole in:  He looks nice, I like it. 

Dad tells him he's going to be w*rking on the weekends to help out (and keep away from me, I'll bet), and that he'll also be taking over on the yard maintenance duties.  Scott says he's happy to help out, and actually seems to be, so... 

Jules is less than enthusiastic about walking to school, and even less happy about being there early.  "You're a freak, I hope you know that.  Why would you want to be here earlier?  It's not like you can put in your time and leave early, you know.  What do you do when it gets colder?  Are you seriously going to make me walk through the snow?  I don't do snow well, I really don't.  Are your parents really going to provide us with winter gear, and everything?  I'm not complaining - they're the best! - but it seems like it'd be just a bit expensive.  Really.  I'm sur-" 

"They'll probably have you get a job, too, Jules."  She looks at me and I nod, "You'll likely want one if you're going to have any free money for things they won't get you.  I wasn't able to w*rk before - I'm probably still too young - but my brothers both w*rked for him to earn some extra cash for luxuries.  I don't know what you'll have to do, but I'm betting that you won't be bored in any event." 

She pauses to think about it:  Seriously, she takes almost two whole seconds.  "That'll be great!  Maybe I can w*rk as a waitress in a diner or something.  Or - I can type! - I could be a secretary in an office and listen to all the gossip and-"  I tune her out.  Walking with them is taking me longer, but I don't mind.  Something about having them with me is really nice. 

We meet with our friends (mostly my friends, yes:  But they're really friendly) before school starts for reals.  Sarah and Jimmy have finally decided to get together, which is nice.  I guess.  Am I the only one who wants to wait? 

I'm having a problem with waiting - MORFS certainly hasn't helped me any with that - and I'm sort of wondering how other people deal with it.  Mom and Dad will say to wait.  Hard line, I'm fourteen and that's too young.  Agreed. 

Scott's nineteen.  Yeah, that's a big difference.  Whatever my body says, I'm not ready for this.  It's not Scott's fault that we're here together now, and I don't think it's my fault, either.  We have to deal with it, and I seriously don't think I'll find anyone better out there (granted:  I'm only fourteen, so what do I know).  It's frustrating.  Probably frustrating for Scott, too. 

Matt's never waited for anything, and he smells fairly strongly of a girl that isn't Jules.  I'd like to be angry with him, but it really isn't his fault.  They don't have a commitment to each other, and I don't even know that they're thinking of dating seriously. 

That, and I don't think that Matt's the first thing on her mind just now. 

Everyone's talking and joking - trying not to mention the events of the weekend - and I (finally) notice Jules and Matt talking.  Matt looks and smells pissed, but he's holding it away and trying to help her stay calm.  They end up with her clinging to him and sobbing softly.  He looks over to me angrily and I wonder briefly what I'd done. 

I look back to him and mouth, 'What?'  He checks himself and says, softly:  "Later," while continuing to comfort Jules.  The bell rings and they don't even twitch.  I hug Scott and wave to the others before going to Spanish. 

Scott catches up with me and walks me to class:  I *sigh* and relax into him. 

"Matt's not going to hurt my sister, is he?  She's in a delicate spot right now, and-" 

"I wouldn't worry about it.  He looked pretty steamed at the situation, so I'm fairly sure he won't go running around on her for a while.  Why?" 

"I lost my friends when I MORFed.  I've been sort of scamming yours, and I don't want to ruin that by going all neanderthal on him like an over-protective brother." 

"Which you are." 

"Which I am," he nods.  "Here you are."  He stops and lays one on me in full view of the people in class - even nibbling my neck a little and chuckling so I know he knows we're putting on a show. 

So I shoot my tail straight out behind me and puff up my fur.  I'm smiling as I hold one hand to my chest and mock-slap him with the other.  He's grinning as I walk into class. 

And that's the highpoint of my day.  Halfway through the class, I'm called down to the office to meet four police officers - there's another car with two more pulling up to the school.  Two of the officers pull their guns on me and another pulls out the collar that was used on me last month. 

Nope.  That ain't happening again.  The final officer is telling me that I'm to go with them for questioning, and says something about those men (rapists) in the woods.  Collar Boy's walking towards me with it out, like I'm just going to stand there and let him shackle me. 

"No," I say, my eyes locked onto the collar, "You are not putting that thing on me."  He smiles and the others cock their guns.  There's a shout from the main doors and I turn to look. 

I hear a *BANG!* and something punches me in the neck.  There may have been something more, but I kind of black out. 

I come back to more shouting, and the Police are waving their guns at each other.  'The h*ll?'  I try to talk and end up coughing.  Most of the guns swivel towards me:  I can't do anything about it because I'm busy trying to cough my throat out.  I finally cough/spit something into my hand before I almost pass out. 

A bullet.  I turn in shock to face the officer who'd shot me (it was one of two, and they're standing sort of together).  More shouting and orders to stand down.  One of the officers looks mulish and several things happen as I clench

Three guns go off slowly - I can see the bullets leaving the muzzles - and two of the bullets are going to hit me in the head.  I slide myself sideways and have to unclench

Thankfully, it's only a few seconds before I'm back.  One of the officers is on his knees with his hands on his head and being cuffed by two others.  The other one's lying in a pool of his own blood, most of his face gone.  I just sit there and stare at the blood *drip - drip - drip*ing off his cheek and onto the floor. 

Mrs. Shumacher pulls me away from them and holds me tight.  I want to turn away but I just can't.  She has to pull my face away before I can tuck myself into her and get away.  I'm shuddering and I can't even think about stopping.  I get a steady patter of nonsense noise from her in an attempt to calm me down. 

People are starting to come around (gunshots will do that), including Scott.  He sees my tail sticking out from Mrs. Shumacher and smells the blood:  Small wonder that he panics.  I'm yanked from the secretary and into Scott's arms before I know what's going on:  I panic, then melt back into him. 

I know that there are things happening, but I just tune everything that isn't Scott out. 

"I was called down to the office, and there were four Police there - four.  Two others pulled up in a car, but I was being arrested though they didn't say 'arrested' they said 'questioning' but then he pulled out the collar:  I  can't do the collar again.  I can't.  They pulled their guns on me to make me put the collar on I think.  Then the officers came in from the outside and shouted something and he shot me.  I don't know what happened after that until I spat the bullet out - they don't taste good, bullets - and he tried to shoot me again but I did my time thing and he missed and now he's dead and a Police officer is dead andit'smyfaultandwhycan'tIbenormalwhydidthishappenkeepheppeningScottIthinkIloveyoupleasedon'tleavemeI'm-" 

I must have drifted off, because I come back with him still rocking me gently.  I can feel him growling at someone but I don't know who.  I don't exactly care, just so you know.  I'm finally feeling more like myself, I'm very comfortable, and I'm really not in the mood to have someone ruin it. 

So naturally, that's when my Dad shows up insisting on answers.  I'm thinking about getting up (also thinking about staying right where I am) and Scott's holding me tighter:  Like he's not ever going to let go again ever.  I suppose I can live with that. 

The Police officer (the nice one) looks upset and walks over to Dad. 

"Mr. Robinson.  I've not questioned anyone, I'm just trying to get control of the situation and waiting for the detective to arrive.  Ah!  There he is.  I don't know how much time he'll need when he gets in, but you'll have to talk to him.  I need you to stay over here and out of the crime scene." 

"Of course, officer.  I'll be over here.  Please tell the detective that I wish to speak with him at his convenience - so long as it's before someone tries to arrest my daughter again.  Of course, if she's to be questioned, I'll need to be there for it.  Do you think I should contact my lawyer?"  Smooth, Dad. 

"I'm not sure it'll be necessary for this:  She wasn't directly involved.  We do have some questions for her about what happened in the woods this weekend, but I'm sure the detective will have you present for that." 

"Thank you."  Dad waves at me, and I twitch my tail back to him, causing him to smile. 

Despite all the lead in, it's still almost a half-hour before the detective talks to me.  He spends most of the time talking to the officers who were there, and then to Mrs. Shumacher.  Then he comes over, asks me a few questions about what happened, basically yes/no as he lays out what happened.  It's mostly yes. 

He calls Dad over and schedules an interview about what happened in the woods for this Saturday at ten.  He then cuts us loose and we leave. 

We're almost home before:  "Wow.  Amy-dear?  Have you noticed that you like things a little more... interesting?... than the people around you?"  Dad. 

"Yeah.  What is it with you?  I mean:  I'm hooked.  You won't be able to drive me off for anything:  I'm just not sure I'll live."  Scott and Dad are both laughing, but I have to wonder:  Am I a danger to people around me? 

We get out of the car and everyone's here for a hug.  (okay:  Everyone except the trouble trio)  Mom's looking me over for injuries and crying like I've died or something. 

"Mom!  I'm okay!  The Police kept me safe,"  Sort of.  The ones who didn't shoot me, at least.  Scott even licked my neck clean of the blood, so there's no evidence.  Or he likes how I taste.  Shutting up. 

Main house.  I'd like to get cleaned up (and get out of these clothes with my blood on them) but Mom won't let me out of her sight.  Finally I just strip it off when I can't take it anymore, thinking she'll let me go get changed now that I'm nearly naked.  She doesn't even blink.  Just quietly tells me to take my underwear off, too.  Apparently, being half-naked is more distracting than going full fur.  I've got no complaints. 

We talk for a good long while, then watch a movie - all eight of us.  Sarah and Jimmy take off after that.  They'd called their parents but still needed to go home and let them see the non-injuries.  Matt told his Father off:  Saying he wasn't going to abandon Jules when she needed him.  I get the feeling that there's a story behind that, but it's not my story. 

Matt takes Jules to her room (my old room) and closes the door.  I don't think anything much will happen, but I don't think it'll be bad.  I take Scott's hand and lead him to the door. 

"Goodnight, Mom.  Dad.  We'll see you in the morning." 

I can see Mom wanting to protest:  She's looking between us and Dad.  Dad just stands up and puts his arm around her.  "The chains detach from the ceiling.  Be safe."  And then he leads an incredulous Mom down the hall into their room. 

I get a bemused Scott into my room and lock the door.  We spend a few minutes getting the bed down (he thinks its funny that I'm holding the bed up while he gets the chains off.  He's taller, and I'm stronger.  It w*rks), then he strips down and gets in. 

And I'm suddenly nervous.  "Scott?  I want to do something, but I don't think we should - you know - do that.  But I think that I need somethiiiieeek!" 

Scott pulls me into the bed and whips the covers over us.  We spend a very restful night together (eventually), and that's all I'm saying. 

*

Dad

"Are you sure it's okay to leave them alone?  They're-" 

"Right now, I am.  Tomorrow?  Not a chance.  She's exhausted from what happened today, and the excitement will wear off before too long.  Unless we fight them on this.  Then she'll get all mulish and not sleep tonight out of spite,"  I smile at her, just as pretty and nervous as our first time. 

"Now.  Can you think of something I can do to take your mind off of this?" 

Her slow smile lights the fire in me that's lasted more than twenty years. 

*

Matt

"I'm not going to be able to-" 

"Shhh.  Don't worry about it.  I won't do anything you don't want me to.  I'll do anything you want me to, short of leaving.  I'm here for the duration - until you don't need me anymore."  She looks so fragile right now, that I can't just leave her. 

'Dad, you bastard:  How could you just leave her when she-' 

She leans in and starts to kiss me, startling me with her eagerness.  I'm about to stop her when I realize it's not eagerness, it's panic.  She's frenzied in her attempts to...  I don't know.  I wish I could talk to Amy about this.  For some reason, Jules isn't able to talk about it. 

She's got-  Hang on.  Focus on her for a moment, you Guinea bastard.  I quiet her down by meeting her passion with some of my own, eating hers and leaving her quiet and tired. 

She falls asleep, but I'm up most of the night:  Waiting for her to break so I can help her get herself back together. 

I don't know if I should be upset that she's not going to want to be with me when she's better. 

Sometimes, it sucks to be me. 

 

Chapter FORTY

October 25, 2009

Scott

I didn't mind being woken up - I really didn't.  I especially didn't mind how I was woken up. 

Amy came into my room and just said, softly:  "Scott?  Mom says I should get you up." 

See?  You can tell she's not had any experience with this sort of thing.  There are a number of...  Okay:  It's a spade... porn videos that start in a similar way.  She's got the voice for it, too. 

Of course, none of those videos continue with her saying:  "Church starts in an hour, and you need to get ready." 

Church?  I'm going to church?  I mean:  Yeah, we were told we were going to be going to church, but...  Does it have to be this early

"Yes, it does.  This isn't even early, Scott.  We get up earlier for school, so you should think of this as sleeping in."  How can anyone be that smug this early in the morning? 

And there's something just wrong about someone with that voice being all smug about this. 

At least her Mom can cook.  Breakfast is amazing:  Sausage and bacon and pancakes all piled high on a plate and smothered in syrup...  I want to go back to bed after eating.  Denied. 

Riding in the car with Amy is great.  I shouldn't enjoy it as much as I do:  I'm trying to be better about things like this.  We have to take her Mom's car - they protest us riding in the bed of her Dad's truck.  Her Mom's driving - she doesn't like letting Jake drive her around in her car, for some reason - and her Dad's riding up front with her.  Us 'kids' ride in the back, and Amy just slides under my arm and snuggles in like she's always been there. 

Still no complaints on my end. 

No tail slots (no room for tail slots in the back) so I'm kind of leaning so my tail doesn't get mangled.  She's leaning against me (same reason) and it looks to her Mother like we're trying to be naughty out of sight behind her.  Jules doesn't help much, leaning the other way - 'if that's how you guys are going to be, then screw you'. 

Her Mom's kind of strict about people swearing around her:  'Screw you' gets Jules a lecture about the language.  What the hell?  Why's she glaring at me?  I wasn't the one saying-  Okay, okay.  I'll stop, already. 

What the he-  heck?  Someone could have warned a guy, is all I'm saying. 

Now I know why she doesn't swear at all.  Wow

Let me describe church for those who might not know about it (you know - normal people).  We get there and got right into the big room...  The Sanctuary, I think.  Everybody seems to have their own seats, though I don't think they're assigned, or anything.  People being people, a lot of them are walking back and forth, having a conversation or three before the... whatever the thing is that they open with starts. 

They've added some seats for those people with tails - which is awfully nice of them.  I realize I'm biased, but taking the time to make someone comfortable is just nice.  I don't want to think about how I'd feel if it went the other way.  I'd probably never come back no matter what I was threatened with. 

People come over and talk to Jules and I.  They just come over and talk, welcoming us to the church, and hoping that we'll stay.  It's probably so we'll throw money in, or something, but...  Still kind of nice. 

There's singing.  Everyone seems to know the songs, though there's books with the songs in them for everyone.  The words are also up on the walls; some sort of projectors or something.  I'd like to sing, but I don't want to seem like a goob 'cause I don't know the words.  Doesn't seem to be stopping Jules, though. 

The songs are nice, and they repeat the chorus every time through or so, so you'll have time to get it down by the time the song's over.  Amy can sing, I should add.  No book, and her eyes are closed, when she's not looking at me.  How does she do that?  I know maybe four songs, total.  Unless they're just hitting the ones she knows... 

They break up, with everyone going to their... classes?  I think?  Jules and I both go to the 'young adult' class.  The guys seem to realize that she's hurting and try to leave her alone.  Either that, or they're freaked out about her hair and eyes and just staying away.  I don't think she minds the space. 

I'm not so lucky, though.  I sit down and I'm surrounded by girls.  There's a lot of people here, and the room's not that big, but...  Just about every one of them needs to tell me how cute I am.  Normally I'd be eating this up, but... 

I can't exactly tell them I'm with Amy, because I'm not really with her, you know?  But I'm also not going to get with any of these because I'm with Amy, so...  How do I let them know this? 

Jules rescues me.  She just leans in and tells them that Amy owns me, and that they should leave off.  And it works.  Some of them are still looking at me, but they stop bothering me and telling me I'm cute. 

I smile at Jules to thank her, and she looks at me for a moment before returning it.  Did she think I wanted these girls after me?  *sigh* 

Why is Jules glaring at me?  I can't seem to get myself together, today. 

*sigh* 

*

Jules

Everyone but me got the memo on how to frickin' sigh?  If Amy weren't my best friend... 

Glad I could help Scott out of his situation.  And I'm glad that he knew he was in a situation.  Amy will be happy, too. 

I'm glad that she'd sang those for me:  I wouldn't have even recognized the songs, let alone been able to sing them.  Even with being able to hear it a minute at a time, it's not that easy.  Amy makes things like that easy.  Scott seemed like such a dork just standing there! 

So far, this church thing seems kind of cool. 

*

Scott

Well, that's over, at least.  Jumping right into the middle of a lesson - especially when you have no frickin' clue what everyone's talking about - isn't the easiest thing to do.  At least they didn't call on me.  Teachers at school would have smelled the blood in the water and gone after it. 

Back in the Sanctuary (should that be capitalized?  It sort of seems like it should be capitalized) I'm sitting with her family and just waiting for her. 

"She's in the nursery, Scott."  Her Mom's leaning in to speak to me.  Ordinarily, I'd be a little freaked out about this, 'cause-  Too much.  New paragraph. 

My girlfriend's hot Mom - who's capable and strong husband is sitting right next to her - is leaning in to talk to me.  I'm usually so afraid of messing things up and getting kicked out (mostly getting Jules kicked out) and forced away from Amy that I feel like I'm walking on eggshells.  I cover that up with some bravado, or just make sure to take care of Amy so everyone can see that I'm nuts about her (*chuckle* nuts) so they'll let me keep doing it. 

But I'm relying on Amy to anchor me, here.  I have no idea what sorts of things I'm supposed to be doing here, or what I'm not supposed to be doing here, and... 

*

Mom

I think he's having a heart attack as I put my arm around him.  What sort of people are his parents that they'd never-  Later Lily, focus on him.  Amy needs him, and he's not a bad person - just damaged. 

"There will be some announcements, and then some more singing.  Then I think there's a special - there will be someone singing a song - then the offering.  Then the pastor gives the sermon, then there's another song followed by the bendiction. 

"Oh!  And today we're having communion.  You don't have to worry about it:  You won't be forced into accepting, or anything.  I think I'll have you go and get Amy for that:  She won't want to miss out on it, don't you think?  She was so happy whe-" 

I keep up a fairly steady conversation about Amy, so he doesn't have time to get nervous about being in church.  I'm trying not to let my feelings about his parents cloud me, but it's hard.  Harder than it should be. 

'Lord?  I'm struggling here, and I don't think that Scott needs to have this laid on him.  If you could, would you-' 

*

Scott

I'm not exactly sleeping, but she does have to snap me back to myself when they start... communion?  I think so.  The sermon was pretty good - not that I've heard a lot of them to go by.  It seems crazy, that people would go to a place every week, just so someone else could tell them how thay should be acting. 

That's sort of how I see it.  I'm not convinced about this 'God' thing.  I know Amy'd be happy to talk to me about it, but I'm worried about the fallout from that.  Either I chase her away with my unbridled heathenness(?) or she convinces me to throw everything I know about the world away and just follow her. 

I'm not sure that'd be bad, but... 

I follow her Mom's directions to the nursery, and find the two girls absolutely covered in children.  What is this?  An ad for having kids?  "Amy?  Your Mom wanted me to get you for communion, or communism, or something."  She gives me a snarky look and then jumps up to scorch me with a kiss.  I'm not complaining, but...  What the hell? 

Then I smell the response from her friend, and I understand.  A little.  I'm not totally sure I want to be claimed, but if I'm going to be claimed, I want it to be her.  I nibble a little on her neck while she glances back at the other girl.  I can almost feel her saying it:  'Mine.  Back off.' 

I'm chuckling while they file past me.  That stops abruptly when:  "Scott?  Could you watch them, please?  We'll only be a minute.  Just keep them safe, okay?" 

So...  I'm trapped in a room with (quick count) nine little kids who are looking at me like they want to pet me, but are afraid I'll eat them.  Lovely. 

I crouch to try to balance the height difference and just smile at them.  A little baby girl giggle-shrieks and starts to crawl to me.  I gather her up in a hug and the others just tackle me, bowling me over and laughing.  I'm glad none of them are terrified of me - I don't know if I could have handled that. 

I guess that Amy's gotten them used to furry people, or something.  It's hard to think of people being afraid of her.  Which is odd when you remember that she's actually killed people. 

Wow.  It's just weird how much she's been through when you consider how normal she is most of the time.  And she just gave me her approval in front of them with that kiss.  I don't think she could have done that by talking to them, but one simple action, and... 

I suddenly realize that we're being watched, and try to get up without dumping all these kids to the ground.  Moms come in and rescure their kids from me (or me from them), then seem shocked when they see me.  I guess they were expecting to see Amy, or something.  I smile at them, and they smile back, so... 

The little girl who'd started all this is the hardest to convince to let go:  She's gumming my ear for all she's worth and it's starting to get painful.  Her Mom's trying to get her away but she's got a good grip on my ear with both hands, and the giggling is right in my ear

She shrieks - almost knocking me out - but then she lets go.  I stagger back, tripping over the rocking chair and falling into a bunch of (thankfully soft) building blocks.  I hear all the women giggling and try to get a smile on my face before they can see me in pain. 

*chuckle*  "Scott?  Are you okay?"  I could listen to her s