Here we go. My continuation of Crownedclowns roundabout story. http://www.sofurry.com/page/276553
Decided to keep it clean, though the oportunity was there to go elsewhere!! Did quite a bit of world-building instead and set the scene for the next author.
"Edit. Here's 3Timers effort for you. Chapter 3. http://www.sofurry.com/page/283785#msg772580399"
Hope you enjoy!
The world was spinning.
Cory tried cracking his sore eyes open again, his head pounding every-time he moved it. A blurry haze was obscuring his vision as he tried to focus his pupils. The room seemed to be revolving in a spiral. He slammed his lids closed again and breathed heavily as his stomach started to rebel. He was lying on his back in a bed, but it was too hard to be his. He could fight his nausea no longer, and tipped himself sideways with a groan as his stomach roiled.
Someone grabbed his shoulder to stop him rolling off the mattress, and a bucket was shoved under his stubbly chin as his protesting mid-drift heaved the previous night's excesses into the mystery container in a messy flood. He gasped, trying to fetch untainted air into his lungs, but every time he tried to inhale, the polluted miasma hit his nostrils and provoked more uncontrollable muscular spasms.
"Steady mate, steady," an unknown male voice reassured him as the bucket was removed from under his face, "Take deep breaths now, you have nothing more left to sick-up."
The hand that was supporting didn't withdraw though, but it felt too soft to be natural. Cory tried opening his eyes again to examine his saviour. This time the light was not too harsh, though he still couldn't focus properly. "Why are you wearing a glove?" he muttered quietly, as orange and black coloured, fur covered fingers materialised on his shoulder as his vision started to clear.
The voice chuckled deeply, "I am not wearing gloves friend, look at me."
Cory followed the arm up to its owners shoulder, and gasped as his brain registered that it belonged to a fur -A tiger fur to be precise- A pair of quizzical green eyes studied him from above the smiling countenance which was perched on top of that pair of shoulders. Those eyes...something started to stir in his alcohol befuddled memory of the previous evening.
"Asher?" he queried hesitantly.
"At your service," the feline replied smiling and showing his impressive set of teeth. "Feel up to supporting yourself now?"
Cory shook his head to clear it, and immediately regretted the action as the room started spinning again, "I will try," he replied as Asher withdrew his hand, 'Where the hell am I?' he queried his brain. 'How have I ended up in a strange bed with a fur sitting next to me...topless?' He suddenly realised the reason he had felt the tiger's fur, was because his shirt was missing. The Tiger's top was also not present, and the well-honed body of the stranger was all too apparent under his pelt.
"Erm...how did I get here?" Cory asked, breathing a sigh of relief as her realised his dignity was still intact as his pants were still present and correct.
"You saved me from some racist in the bar last night. You had been drinking for a while according to the bar-keep, and when I returned the favour by buying you the house special, it tipped you over the edge. I couldn't leave you as you were, so I brought you home," Asher replied standing and picking up the contaminated bucket.
"But this is not home..." Cory started taking in the room finally. The sun was streaming through the waving curtains hanging from the window. The scent of the sea breeze was evident, and he assumed that the sashes must be open.
"It is to me my friend," Asher replied strolling over to a door in the wall and opening it. A glimpse of a tiled floor assured Cory that he had entered an en-suite, and the flushing of an appliance confirmed it a few seconds later. The main bedroom was decorated in hues of light green and blue, the carpet thick and plush like grass. A driftwood dressing table and chair was placed against the window wall, with a large mirror and a huge assortment of bottles and tubes scattered methodically on its surface.
Cory heard a tap running, and then the appliance flush again. There was a single large wardrobe and a chest of draws opposite where he was lying, and the large, recently vacated chair that seemed out of place stood next to the double bed which he was currently occupying. He glanced quickly at the covers on the other side, a moment of panic creeping into his mind, but then he realised that they had obviously not been slept in. His shirt hung on the back of the dressing table chair, with a large T overlapping it.
Asher reappeared carrying a softly fizzing pint glass of water, and handed it to him with a smile. "Here, drink this; it should help settle your head and stomach."
Cory sniffed at the water, and was greeted by the familiar scent of Seltzer. He smiled and sitting up more, he downed the pint in a single smooth movement. Coughing slightly, he wiped his lips as he tried to stifle his gag reflex again as the gassy liquid hit his vacuous stomach. "Thank you," he replied after a moment.
"You're welcome," Asher replied and picked up the chair he had occupied, carrying without effort and replacing it the unnoticed before carpet dimples by the window. Walking to the other-side of the double, the tiger retrieved a bedside table from its temporary location, and placed it where the chair had just been moved from. Cory swung his legs around to sit up vertically, and placed the drained glass on it, rubbing his throbbing temples as the potion started to sooth his innards.
Asher sat down in the chair by the window and observed his human guests reactions. He was certainly fit, his muscles still well defined despite his obvious middle age spread that was beginning to be evident. Nothing that couldn't be solved by a few workout's though. He was attractive in his own way, though the lack of fur was a little off-putting. Asher had never tried a relationship with a none fur, though he held nothing against the more numerous bipeds that used to hunt his feral ancestors before the change.
He was seventh generation now, his long dead relatives having been infected by the airborne serum that some 'feral right' nutters had released in over five hundred zoo's worldwide on that fateful day over two hundred years ago. They didn't realise what they were doing of course, thinking that introducing human intelligence to the world'[s species was doing them all a favour. All the smaller species couldn't handle the change, and the offspring born of the infected parents were either retarded to the point of not being able to look after themselves, or had to be euthanized with skull deformities at birth.
Most of the species that had body weights similar to, or heavier than humans had been born with, and adapted to their new thoughts and feelings. The hooved creatures though were disabled in the modern society, having to use computers to dictate to, and employ helpers in the day to day tasks, not able to handle anything that required delicate manipulation. The first of the pawed furs had surgery as children to alter their hip structure to allow a bipedal posture, and the adaption of their dew claws into thumbs. These days though, thanks to Professor Meinhoffer and his team, their DNA had been altered so accelerated evolution meant that it was rare that such operations were necessary now. Fur's were now equal in every way to the more populous humans that had spawned them.
"How did I get here again?" Cory asked, breaking Asher's train of thought.
"I brought you home mate after you collapsed at the bar. We had been talking for a couple of hours after you punched your 'friends' lights out for insulting me. You got all upset, and then your brain gave in to the effects of the booze."
"Why am I undressed?" Cory asked.
"You spilled your last drink on your shirt and mine, and I didn't want to soil my sheets. I washed it after I laid you on the mattress, so it is clean again now. You want it?" Asher replied starting to get up.
"No...Ah I thought for a moment," he gestured at the tiger's lack of upper apparel.
Asher laughed, settling back into the chair, "You have no need to fear that mate. That would have been rape anyway the way you were last night. Though I swing that way, you mentioned a wife and kids, so my intentions were purely charitable."
"Ex-wife..." something penetrated his mind then, "You're gay?" He asked suddenly.
"Bi actually, though I prefer blokes,"
"But anim..." he stopped himself, "Furs...Surely..." Cory stuttered.
"That we only have sex for reproductive purposes and we are all straight?" Asher finished for him, grinning.
"Some of your scientists noticed that there were homosexual feral's years before we were forcibly evolved. It is not common amongst us, and we don't advertise it like your 'queens' do, but our sexuality is defined at birth just as it is in humans. I've had plenty of willing partners, but am currently unattached. That was why I was solo at the bar last night," Asher said stretching, the sun playing across the patterns in his fur.
"And you thought you would pull me?" Cory said uncertainly.
"No. I just happened to be next to when your friend started acting up. We got on well together and as he was still out for the count when you passed out, I brought you home recover, nothing more. Any decent person would have done the same. I will run you home as soon as you are ready as well unless you want to walk."
Cory snorted, "Nowt for me there now. Karrie took everything including the pets..." he glanced up at Asher in case he had offended him.
The tiger smiled and stood, opening the bedrooms main door, making a high pitched mewling noise. A few seconds later a proud Bengalese walked in, sniffing disdainfully at the air in the room before turning and examining the stranger sitting on her owner's bed. She strolled over; rubbing her cheek pads on Cory's trousers, then launched her-self up onto the beds foot, starting to groom herself while ignoring him. "Meet Melanie. She runs the place for me while I am at work..." Asher said as he reached out to give the cat a rub on her ears. She purred deeply, leaning into the caress.
"You keep pets...isn't that like?" Cory started.
"Looking after the retarded? No. Of course we keep pets Cory. In many ways they are more fortunate than us. Waited on hand and foot, never having to worry where the next pay-cheque comes from...always homed now the protection laws are in place. Next you will be asking what I eat. Vegetables?" he paused for a second as Melanie tried to bury her head more enthusiastically in his hand, "We fur's are almost as human as you humans are. We eat feral meat, we work, we keep pets, we marry, we drive, we love, we hate and we crap just like you do. We didn't ask for what was forced upon us by your activists, but it saved many of our feral selves from extinction. As a soon our first generation offspring matured, they started fighting for absolute protection of our feral selves."
"I'm sorry. I have never really socialised with you before..." Cory started.
"No need to be. They only started teaching our true histories when the anti-segregation laws were passed and that was after you and I left college. Now you know, and maybe you will pay more attention to your surroundings. I find that humans tend to be very focussed upon themselves at times." Asher said, cutting off Cory's apologies.
Cory turned to stare up into the tiger's face, not sure if he had offended him. He was captured by the pools of liquid Verdi-gris in Asher's iris's, and further words caught in his throat. His mind flashed back to the office and the incident that had destroyed his marriage. The office party....the dares...the newbie with a digital camera...him losing, and kissing John, the office queen...the flash going off as he was drawn into something other than a lip tickler...the feelings...the laughter...the look on Karrie's face a couple of days later when he came home and she shoved her laptop with an open email at him showing the scene...the arguments...her leaving...the gavel dropping with finality at their decree-nisi hearing in court.
"Cory, Cory...You alright mate...you want a doctor?" Asher's voice broke him out of his thought cycle.
"What? Erm no. Memories just caught up with me, that's all," he shook his head to clear it. 'Why was he thinking like that?' This damn fur was so attractive all of a sudden. He had never even kissed a man before that damn party, and now he was feeling a yearning for a fur...A male fur.
Melanie jumped down off the bed gracefully and walked towards the door, mmrowling over her shoulder. Asher laughed, "Someone wants breakfast...you feeling up to some bacon or something?" he asked.
Cory grinned, hiding his conflicting emotions, "Yes...the Seltzer must be working and I could do with something to line my stomach again."
"Good, I will go and get something on then. The bathroom is over there if you want to freshen up before you come down. Bottom of the stairs turn right down the corridor and you will find yourself in the kitchen diner," Asher reached for his T-shirt and slipped it on, before following the impatient Melanie out of the room.
Cory stood slowly, and his bladder made itself known to him that it was also suffering for his indulgence the evening before. Thank God he hadn't got an erection! He quickly walked into the en-suite and positioned himself in-front of the pan before relieving himself with a sigh. The room was tiled from floor to ceiling with cream coloured porcelain. A large glass screen separated the shower area from the toilet and wash-basin. A single large toothbrush stood forlornly in a beaker next to the mirror, for some reason making Cory laugh at the domesticity of the scene. He flushed and then ran some cold water over his hands and bare chest, splashing it on his cheeks and cursing his stubbly appearance and lack of a razor. Grabbing a towel from the ladder radiator, he dried off and walked back into the bedroom, grabbing his shirt from its resting place.
He made the bed out of habit, and then walked in only his socks out into the hallway, as he couldn't see his shoes. A further three doors opened of the landing, and assuming one was the main bathroom suite he realised that the house must be three bedrooms. He wondered why for a few minutes, but decided not to pry. The staircase was over hung by a large skylight that let natural sunlight flood into the well. Walking down hessian weave carpeted stairs he entered the lower hallway next to the front door where his shoes had been neatly placed. All the floors were carpeted he noted, against the normal practice of natural wood, smacking his forehead, he realised that claws must scratch terribly.
To the left through an open door there was a neatly furnished TV room and lounge with a large bay window. An open archway separated it from what was obviously a formal dining area with a set of patio doors. A small toilet was situated under the stairs. He turned right as instructed and down the bright corridor, the stairs skylight casting sunbeams over the sky-blue painted walls. A few bits of modern art hung at intervals, alongside a few pictures of his host holding various sports trophies. The smell of hot bacon fat tantalized his nostrils, and he emerged into the large kitchen diner, where Asher was tending to a spitting skillet on the gas rings.
"Take a seat mate over there, or we can go out on the deck if you wish," the tiger said as he appeared.
Glancing out of the folding, tinted glass doors that were floor to ceiling along one wall, he was greeted with the site of a salt-silvered timber deck suspended over sand with half a dozen teak chairs surrounding a parasol covered table. The view was stunning. A hundred feet or so of rolling, grass tufted dune that then became a white sand beach; the Pacific Ocean caressing it gently in the morning sunlight. A couple of children were running along the sand, trailing a kite with a Jack Russell terrier snapping at their heels. A couple of joggers were out for their morning exercise as well. 'Asher must have money,' Cory thought to himself as he took the view in. Detached properties by the beach cost a fortune.
"I think the deck looks inviting if you don't mind," Cory replied, after a few seconds.
"Just pull the end door; they all fold back together in a concertina. I will be out in a bit,"
"You need a hand?"
"Nah, I am almost done. The BBQ has a cupboard under it. Just grab the sauces and couple of sets of cutlery from it. Coffee okay to drink?" Asher asked, flipping the bacon. Melanie was eating from a set of dishes on one of the worktops, Cory noted.
"Coffee's fine," he answered, pulling the door handle and creating a six foot passage in the wall. The breeze was cool still, so he didn't think that folding the whole glass wall back on itself was a good idea. He spotted the BBQ immediately as he stepped out; it was a huge charcoal affair that had been rolled under the side eaves of the chalet...yes chalet. It wasn't really a house as such. The whole thing stood on pilings, and was obviously of timber construction now he was outside. "Must have some storm tides on occasions," he muttered to himself as he collected the condiments and cutlery from the cupboard.
Asher watched his guest muttering to himself through the deck doors, wondering what was playing through his mind. The bacon was ready, so he grabbed the two plates that he had warming in the oven, and flipped the steaming rashers out of the skillet, dividing them equally. Quickly buttering a couple of large baps, he placed everything on a tray along with a full cafetiere and two mugs and a milk jug.
Walking out the door, he joined Cory at the table, "I guessed you had butter on your baps, so I spread it before asking," he said grinning, placing the loaded tray on the table.
"Yeah that's fine, lovely spot you have here," Cory replied, taking one of the chairs and a plate.
Asher poured the coffee, "Milk? Sugar?" he asked. "Yeah, I got it as a building plot eight years ago when there was a fire in the old house. Built this place by myself over a couple of years from my bonus cheques."
"Just a splash, but no sugar thanks," Cory replied, taking the mug when offered, "So your job pays well?"
"Well enough when business is brisk. You would be surprised how quickly people will hand over what they legally owe when confronted with a fully armed tiger baring his teeth and muscles at them," he grinned, showing his impressive incisors then took a bite out his loaded bap.
Cory smiled back, nodding, "I thought you indicated before that you went to college. Why are you now working as hired muscle?"
"Not hired Cory, it's my own business. The courts use me and my crew to enforce the law. I run the second biggest enforcement company in South California. I got a first in business, looked for an opportunity when I hit graduation and decided that the only way I could assure work was to go into something the State needed. Used my body and build to get a job working for someone else for a couple of years, then started my own company about ten years ago."
"I wish I could risk starting out on my own, but I have a fam..." he paused realising the absurdity of the statement, "Had a family to support. Needed the guaranteed salary to keep the wolves from the door."
"Don't you mean Tigers?" Asher grinned.
Cory laughed, finishing his bap, "Touché."
"Last night, you said your wife left you taking the kids...What happened if I am not being to presumptuous?"
"I would rather not talk about it, something unfortunate happened at a works do," Cory answered, staring at the kids who were now playing in the surf with the terrier.
They sat awkwardly for a few minutes in silence. Asher stretched, removing his T again "Fancy joining me on my jog? I usually do a couple of miles at dawn, but you needed me to watch over you."
Cory admired the play of sunlight over his new friends fur, then nodded taking his shirt off and standing, "It should clear my head, and it's Saturday so I am not due in work."
"Good. There is an old jetty around the headland. I use it as my marker, so we will head that way," Asher jumped down onto the sand, and Cory followed. The two of them steadily jogging off into the distance together.