This story contains mature themes including, but not limited to, sexual situations, polyamorous relationships, drugs, alcohol, and others.
If these situations offend you, then please read no further. Thank you, and enjoy.
There was a flashing of light, a cacophony of sound, and there was confusion. The world spun and dipped, and tossed about as if it had been ripped in twain by a set of childish hands, and then suddenly slammed together with such jarring force as to cause the sky and the ground to become one, and the air itself to solidify. Colors exploded into darkness while the darkness was so bright that it was necessary to squint against its blackness.
And then Kevin was awake. Sitting up groggily and pulling himself up out of the state of chaotic half wakefulness he so often found himself in first thing in the mornings, he carefully climbed over the body to his right and shut off the alarm clock. He turned and contemplated crawling back into bed, and back into the welcoming sleep, back to the warmth and the dreams. Instead, he quietly shut the door behind him so as to not wake up his bed mates, and headed towards the shower. There was no reason they should suffer for his early rising ways, he figured.
Kevin stretched out as much as he could in the shower, letting the water run over his back and shoulders, bringing their stinging refreshment to his cold skin. He was still aching from the night before, and even though he had showered afterward as well, he was still sweat-chilled and could imagine he still smelled of the night’s sex. It had been wonderful, again, as it had been every time since he had moved in to this apartment with Urien and Darius, but it was hardly restful. Kevin had to actively struggle to stay awake as he dragged a nearly dull razor across his chin and cheeks. He caught himself as he almost began to shave off his distinctive goatee, blinking himself back to alertness, shutting off the water before he found himself wasting too much of the hot water.
Stepping out of the hazy steam generated by the hot water, Kevin grabbed a towel, dried off, and tossed it carelessly on the floor. At the very least, he suspected, it would give Urien something to do when he got up. He moved over, and inspected his reflection in the mirror, rubbing his hands along his neck and jaw line, making sure he hadn’t missed anywhere while shaving. Satisfied, he began brushing his teeth, arching his back to try and get the last of the stubborn kinks out of the muscles there. That done, he reached a hand forward, and brushed the fog off of the mirror, and smiled.
Beside and slightly behind Kevin, the small ram did not smile back. The anthropomorphic character stared back into the mirror with its big, dark, innocent eyes, and did not smile. Kevin raised a hand to his mouth to finish brushing his teeth, and watched as the figure raised its own hand to its mouth, and began to suck on its finger. It was unclothed save for a fresh diaper, and it’s fur was a pale gray, splotched with dark brown spots, two small curving horns sticking up out of his unruly mop of brown hair. Kevin shuddered slightly, as a blast of cold air blew its way under the bathroom door, and so did the small creature in the mirror.
Kevin sighed, and finished brushing his teeth. Then without even a cursory glance in the mirror, he turned and stalked back to the bedroom, tensing his nude body against the chill morning air. It always seemed that, on these winter mornings, the air was chilled no matter how long the central heating had run the night before. Trying to stay as quiet as he could, Kevin crept back into the bedroom, noticing that the spot he had vacated on the bed had quickly been filled in as the two younger men had adjusted themselves closer together, huddling for warmth with the covers half off.
He began to dress himself, wondering not for the first time if the shirt and tie he was putting on was who he was, or whether or not this was the costume, covering that piece of him that had brought him to where he currently was in life. Darius and Urien, whom he had met a year earlier at a local fur meet, had become fast friends, and even faster partners. Ironically, it had been his first fur meet ever, having always been too shy to attend such things. Kevin had never been one for indulging what he considered his ‘dirtier’ side, and thus had never explored the local scene despite being quite active in various online communities. Seeing many of his friends and family starting to drift apart, Kevin had decided to seek out others who shared similar interests to his own. He had never imagined that he would end up in a relationship with anyone, much less the two younger men whom he now referred to as his ‘family’.
Through this new family, Kevin had been learning how to ‘let himself go’ and ‘enjoy life’, which usually meant parties with other furries, indulging in sexual fantasies, going to conventions on a moment’s notice, and generally just not getting any real rest, or so Kevin thought. He had been having fun, that was not in question, but he still always felt like a bit of an outsider, even when in his own home. He, approaching his thirty fifth birthday, was always seemingly at odds with Urien, the pale skinned twenty one year old Mediterranean import, and Darius, their much darker culturally ambiguous twenty-two year old third. If it wasn’t about finances, of which Kevin took the lion’s share of the burden, despite Darius’s job as a local bike messenger, it was about the cleanliness of the apartment, about which Urien had a compulsion to keep spotless, or it was about Kevin’s being far too uptight and ‘old acting’ as Darius had lazily put it one evening when Kevin had opted to work late instead of going out to a local bar with the other two boys.
Ironic, thought Kevin as he walked back over to the bed. There Darius lay, one of the pins that was supposed to be holding the thin cloth diaper on sitting open and useless as the fabric lay sprawled on the covers.
“It’s a wonder you didn’t stick yourself and bleed on the covers…” Kevin muttered, quickly and deftly pulling the corners of the flannel square tight across the thin and all too bony hips, pinning it deftly.
Darius stirred in Urien’s arms, rolling over and rubbing his eyes, but not opening them. He muttered something into his pillow of which Kevin could only make out the word “fridge” before the younger man was again fast asleep. Kevin smirked, and leaned over to kiss both of them gently on their temples, and then he again quietly made his way out of the bedroom. In the mirror hanging on the closet door he glimpsed the two, a shining silver fox curled around a dark brown overly large chipmunk, their ‘real’ bodies seeming nothing more than the vapors still drifting through the bathroom door sprawled on the king sized bed. Kevin smiled slightly at the sight, thinking it cute, and regretting that he had to leave that scene and go out into the world once again. The small goat-child standing next to the bed did not smile back.
In the fridge, Kevin found a brown paper bag with his name on it, a lunch apparently prepared for him by Darius. The word ‘GereNuk’ had been scratched through, and ‘Kevin’ written under it, indicating that Darius had almost forgotten that Kevin did not prefer to be called or referenced by his fur-name outside of their circle of friends. He guessed that it contained what lasagna hadn’t been eaten the night before, an apple insisted on by Urien, and a can of green tea. Again, Kevin smiled as he grabbed his briefcase, bag lunch, and made his way through the door, stepping out into the gray, cold world. It was mid November now, and the city hadn’t yet reached the peak of grayness that he knew it could, but he could definitely feel it getting there. Even the interior of the apartment high rise’s corridors seemed a little less colorful, despite having no windows to let the gloomy overcast outside in.
Holding the brown paper bag containing his lunch in his teeth, Kevin fiddled with the keys, locking the apartment and making sure he had remembered to bring his wallet, and that he had picked up his iPod for the bus ride to the office. He nodded to the doorman and security guard as he passed out into the street, the cold sending a shiver directly to the marrow in his bones. Of all the things to forget up on the seventeenth floor, Kevin regretted his coat suddenly. He looked down at his watch, and realized that even if the bus were late, as it customarily was, he didn’t have enough time to take the elevator back up, grab it, and make it back down in time. Sighing a large cloud of early winter’s steam, he huddled as much as he could into his suit coat and waited.
The bus, as Kevin had expected, was late. Shuffling gratefully into the warmth, he took a seat as close to where he normally sat as he possibly could, and tried not to look around too much. It wouldn’t do to attract attention here, as he had heard many tales of people assaulted on the public transit just for looking at the wrong person. Of course, Kevin had never seen any of these assaults take place, but they were in the news and on everyone’s lips, so he kept his eyes hooded and tried to look as interested as one possibly can in his mp3 player. Settling on a playlist, Kevin tried to lose himself in the movement of the bus’s movements, bumps, and the grind of the music. No one sat beside Kevin, and when he looked of the window, he saw himself seated beside himself, now dressed, and sucking on a pudgy thumb, the sad eyes staring back into the window’s reflection. Kevin tried to ignore it, shifting through his briefcase again.
The wolf got on at the next stop. The young girl whom the wolf belonged to was someone was someone Kevin had never seen at any of the local gatherings, but he figured by the wispy ghost-like appearance of the wolf reflected on her in the window in front of which she sat that she wasn’t active in any circles of the fandom. She always rode the same bus as Kevin, and many times he had wanted to approach and introduce himself, or to say something about the wolf, but he usually just let it go. It would be too hard to explain to her, anyway. And so he sat and stared at the reflection, then at his music player, and then at nothing. Too many stops later, or so it seemed, Kevin bundled himself back into himself, and stepped back out into the cold world.
Thankfully, he didn’t have far to go from the bus stop to his building, and since the bus had picked up some time somewhere, Kevin found that he had enough time to enjoy a coffee in the small cafe on the first floor.
“Oh, Hey Nukky!” came a voice floating above the early morning din of people going in and out of the cafe, causing Kevin to wince slightly, but turn around anyway.
“Oh, hey Slink.” he responded to the slightly obese and squat man approaching him. Kevin didn’t know his actual name, having been introduced a couple of months back to the man as ‘Slinky’, an otter and local freelance blogger. As far as he could tell, Slink made his money selling ad space on his personal blog. Kevin was not a subscriber.
“'Morning, man. How’s things with you and Darius and Urien?” Slink asked, waving a waitress away as she tried to take his order.
“Not bad,” Kevin replied, sipping a coffee the very same waitress had brought just before Slink had arrived. “We’re holding our own, y’know.”
Slink leaned over the table, giving Kevin a rather distorted view of the thin, somewhat masculine otter that Slink thought he was. “Word on the 'net is that you guys are hosting a cub room at the next Con?”
“Nah, not that I know about,” Kevin denied, but he was lying. It had been his idea, but he didn’t like Slink and his rumoring blog. The less fodder he gave the fat man behind the glasses peering at him, the better.
“Henh. Maybe I heard wrong then. Usually my sources are pretty dead on.”
Kevin shrugged. “First time for everything, I guess.”
“Yeah, turns out Kato and FlyffyFox weren’t breaking up, either, so maybe I should try and find someone else who’s better connected.”
“Or someone who you can use and throw away, while that person becomes a social outcast for being a ‘drama whore’.” Kevin wanted to say, but instead just shrugged and said, “Maybe.”
Slink looked hard at Kevin, and leaned back. “So what’s new with you, Nukky?”
“Not a whole lot. New project at work coming through hopefully, so we’ll be busy there. Then of course the holidays are coming up, and that’s always a busy–”
“Forget that junk,” Slink cut him off. “Are you guys going to PJ’s party tonight?”
Kevin shrugged again. “You’d better ask the other two. I’ve not given it much thought.” then he looked at his watch, and nodded. “I really gotta go. Early morning meeting with third party vendors and all that.”
“OH! Yeah, sure!” Slink said, hastily jumping up, “I’ll probably pop around your place later today and see what the boys are up to, y’know.”
Kevin didn’t think he would, but shrugged, left a tip on the table, and nodded again. “Cool. I’ll send them an e-mail and let 'em know to be ready.”
“Sweet. Catch ya later, Nukky!” And the portly man walked away, already fishing in his pocket for his cell phone, probably to call and get more gossip for his column. Kevin really didn’t like the nickname Slink had pinned on him when they had first been introduced, but then he didn’t much care for Slink either. One aspect of this ‘community’ in which he had found himself was that Kevin definitely did not like was all the bickering and in-fighting between people and groups. It reminded him of his first two years of high school.
Not that it really mattered to Kevin. Office politics were much the same way, as were the politics of just about any group he had ever been a part of, so he figured it more than likely was just the human condition. What bothered Kevin was that furries seemed to embrace it with such gusto and then cling to it long after anyone else would have given up and either made amends or gone their own way. For his part, Kevin tried to avoid it as much as possible, but between Urien and Darius’s various quarrels with each other and other people, it was mostly impossible to stay clean and above the fray.
Much to his surprise, Kevin ended up sharing an elevator with a short Middle Eastern German Sheppard, which amused Kevin to no end, causing him to giggle slightly every time the man’s reflection would shift. He had to admit, however, that it was probably the most balanced reflection Kevin had ever seen, save one, and it was hard to tell where the man began and the animal ended, or vice versa. It was refreshing, and Kevin found himself perking up somewhat, despite himself. The shorter man turned and gave Kevin a puzzled and annoyed glare as he stepped off the elevator a few floors before Kevin’s stop, but not even that could douse the tiny flame in his brain.
Kevin’s boss, on the other hand, did just that as soon as he got to his desk and opened his e-mail. The vendor’s proposal had been picked apart by the legal and financial departments, and as head of Vendor Relations, it was now apparently Kevin’s duty to take those notes and recommendations and draft a counter proposal. It wasn’t the work he disliked, it was the knowledge that his proposal would be picked apart just as much as the vendor’s, if not more so, and he would be spending the rest of the week revising, meeting, and revising again.
Kevin was in the middle of page three, which was the first real page of the document, the others being just introductory and politeness, when his phone rang.
“Kevin Gawdat, how may I help you?” He said, boredly in that way most office works had become accustomed to.
“Nuk, honey, if you ever leave your towel on the bathroom floor again, I swear I will have your balls on a plate,” came Urien’s voice through the phone.
“Calm down, Cas,” Kevin tried to placate the voice, using the shortened version of the name of Urien’s furry personality, Casanomunk. “Is that all you called me about?”
“Hardly,” came a slightly exasperated reply, “You also left your razor on the sink and… Look, that’s not the point. Slink called a little while ago and wanted to know what we were doing tonight.”
Kevin inwardly rolled his eyes. “I told him it was up to you two. What did you tell him?”
“That we weren’t sure yet. Why’d you try and brush him off on us, anyway? You’re the one with the car, so it’s your call.”
Somewhere in the background, Kevin heard Darius, muffled, “Is that Gere?”
“Yes, it is. Who else would it be? SHOES!” Urien exclaimed, shooting an image of Darius getting ready for work and strolling through the apartment with his biking shoes on.
Darius said something in the background that Kevin couldn’t quite make out, and then Urien relayed the message, “Sylver says to pick up some canned heat on your way home. He’s afraid his bike chain is going to freeze again this year.”
“Sure thing,” Kevin responded, taking a note on a pad of paper. “Anything else?”
“Are we or aren’t we?”
“Are we what?” Kevin asked, confused.
“Going to PJ’s party. This place is a mess, and if we’re going out tonight, I need to get on the ball, and I have to make sure Sylver gets home on time.” Darius’s protest about being able to take care of himself was heard from somewhere in the background, and then the closing of the apartment door.
“Look, we’ll talk about it when I get off work, okay? That party probably won’t start 'till late anyway.”
Urien sighed heavily, and conceded. “Fine, but you know I don’t like not knowing.”
“Yes, I know. Look, I’ll try and get out of here early and help out around the apartment, okay?”
A pause, and then, “Fine. Send an e-mail or something if you make up your mind before then.”
“Will do,” Kevin agreed, and tapped his pen to the paper, “We good?”
“We’re good. Have fun at work, rammykins.” Kevin inwardly groaned. That was almost as bad as ‘Nukky’.
“Good bye, Cas.” and he hung up.
The rest of the day passed in a blur of legalese, punctuated by the bright spot that was his rather juvenile delight at eating his lunch from a brown paper bag. Kevin didn’t see the dog man on the elevator as he was leaving the building, nor did he see the wolf on the bus. She was never there in the evenings, either going home on a different route, or just at a different time, but the little ram was still there, looking just as tired as Kevin felt, the little one trying it’s best to curl up on the bus seat. Kevin pushed the image out of his mind, and concentrated on the seat in front of him. He still hadn’t decided whether or not to go to the party that evening, and he weighed the pros and cons all the way through the front door of his apartment.