First chapter in another story of mine, keeping track of the eccentric skunk Darien Cariell Kefoah.
A few raindrops fell from the rapidly darkening sky and into the wet roads of a still, small town. Few inhabitants of the town were out of their homes on that damp, dreary day. The various creatures that were, however, kept to themselves for the most part. All of them except for a single skunk. Standing at five foot nine, the skunk didn't stand out too much amongst the other pedestrians at first glance. But with a closer second look, an observer could see the friendly glint in the skunk's eyes and the vibrant green streak in his headfur under his hood. He was wearing a baggy, navy blue hoody and loose, dark gray sweatpants to keep him warm in the cold, damp weather.
The skunk lifted his head up and stared into the swirling gray clouds above him, letting the falling rain drip onto his black muzzle and down his neck. His eyes drifted closed for only a moment as he enjoyed the refreshing feeling of the water running through the fur down his back. As he brought his gaze back down to his feet, he slipped a paw up the side of his head, placing an earbud into his ear. He withdrew a small circle from his hoody and slid a digit along the face of it, causing a screen on it's surface to light up. The screen displayed a few lines of text, giving the name of a band, an album, and a song, before the light shut off once more and music flowed into his mind from the headphones in both of his ears. He started on his way down the street and he placed the music player back into his hoody, keeping both of his paws in the large pocket as well.
As he neared a four-way intersection, a voice broke through the music and reached his ears. "Darien!" He lifted his eyes from the pavement in front of him and saw a young wolfess running towards him from his left. She was clothed in a pair of tight black jeans and a bright red shirt, complimenting her shimmering gray fur. The wolfess came to a stop beside the skunk she had hailed, measuring a good five inches shorter than him. "What'cha doing out on a day like this, Dare?"
Darien grinned at her and let out a soft laugh. "Oh Tyll, you know how much I love the rain! Why, you shouldn't be surprised at all to see me out taking my normal walk a little slower than usual, silly pup." The skunk rested a paw on Tyll's head and ruffled her short, spiked headfur. "How have you been? You and Lim were on vacation, right? How was it? Where'd you go?"
Tyll put a paw to her muzzle and giggled, batting at the skunk's arm with her other paw. "Yeah, we went up to the mountains to visit Mom and Dad for a week. We just got back last night, but I wanted to surprise you!" Her hazel eyes twinkled as she looked up at the older skunk. "We had so much fun up there, though... I wish you could come one of these times, you'd like it!" She grabbed his other paw and held it in both hands. "Oh please will you come with us next month, Dare?"
"I dunno..." he shrugged and grimaced a little. "It depends on my work schedule, see? My boss doesn't give me a very strict time slot for me to be in, but I still need to make sure it would be okay first, y'know?" He readjusted his stance and shifted more of his weight to his right foot, moving his paws to behind his head. "I would really like to, Tyll. I'll see what I can do, okay?" He looked back down at her and she was beaming with glee in return.
"Yay! I can't wait to tell Lim! Oh, he'll be so excited to hear it!" She bounced a few times before she turned and sped off, silently running back the way she had come, leaving Daren on the street corner in the rain alone. He smiled after her as he pulled his hood up a little farther on his head.
He muttered a few lines in a foreign language that held a personal meaning for him, and then continued on his walk, crossing the intersection to his right. After he had walked along his new direction for a solid twenty minutes, following the twists and turns of the road, he came to a two story brick house with a plain black door. Daren strode up to the door and pulled a silver key from his pants pocket, fitting it into the lock and twisting it, turning the handle with the key. The door swung inward on silent hinges, and the skunk took a few steps into the softly lit entry way before pushing the door closed behind him. He flipped off his sandals and padded into a lightly furnished living room, where three other creatures were already lounging about on the furniture.
Sharing a three person couch against the center wall was a tall, athletic looking lemur who was holding a shorter, slender fox against himself. Alone on a reclining chair against the far wall was a muscular caiman. None of the beings in the room wore anything more than their undergarments; mainly boxer-shorts.
The skunk smiled as he strode into the room, turning for the only unoccupied seat against the nearest wall. He flipped down his hood as he dropped into the big armchair, turning sideways in the chair and propping his legs up on the arm while resting his head on the opposite arm. Giving a soft sigh of contentment in his relaxed position, he flicked the tip of his tail towards the caiman and grinned. "So how long have you been up, Lex?"
The caiman yawned in response and slumped further down in his chair, flipping up the foot rest with a deft swipe of his clawed hand. "'bout an hour, why?"
Dare laughed a little at the answer and grinned wider. "You look like the devil himself kept you up all night. What in the world are you doing to keep you out so late, Lexian?"
Lexian grimaced and groaned at the query, tilting his head to the side and closing his eyes. He muttered a soft "Leave me alone, you striped tormentor..." before he attempted to doze off again. This caused the other creatures in the room to laugh a bit more, much to the dismay of the reptile.
Dare moved his gaze to the two sharing the couch and he flicked his tail towards them next. "And what about you two? How much sleep did you guys actually get?"
The fox blushed darkly and hid his face against the larger lemur, who chuckled a little and gave the little canid an affectionate squeeze."We got a good seven hours at least, despite what you may think, you dirty minded beast. We know our limits and get our sleep, unlike someone else in the room." All three immediately threw a taunting glance towards the caiman before they burst into laughter again.
The caiman threw a pillow at the lemur, hard and fast, nailing the primate in the side of the head. All they heard after that was a short mumble of "Quiet you noisy louts..." before he rolled over on the chair, once more attempting to sleep.
Dare rose from his seat and padded through the doorway beside the couch, motioning for the fox and lemur to follow him, and they strode into a smaller gathering area with a beautiful stone fireplace and a nicely maintained glossy hardwood floor. Around the fireplace was a two person couch, two lounge chairs, and a futon along the wall. The skunk took one of the lounge chairs, slouching down into the cushions as the couple settled down on the loveseat.
The fox smiled as he laid his head back against the lemur's chest, splaying his ears out to the side in satisfaction. "I really appreciate that you're letting us stay here Dare... It's been tough finding a place to stay since Nine got fired from that restaurant."
"Don't worry about it Silas. It's the least I could do for a longtime friend and co-worker and his mate. Besides, I know what it's like to fall on hard times. I'm just lucky that my dad left me this house in his will before he died. Easy to keep up with the bills here, oddly enough, despite how big a house it is." The skunk shook his head slowly with a grin. "Plus, it was getting kinda lonely with just Lex here to keep me company. I'm glad to have you and Ninerrin as housemates." Dare flicked his ears forward and grinned wider, his eyes sparkling at the couple across from him. "Speaking of work though, how has the manager position been treatin' ya? Well, I'd hope, boss." He snickered a bit and twitched his tail mischeivously.
Silas felt his cheeks flush once more as his ears lowered a little in embarassment. "It's a bit better than it was before... we got a new regional manager and he's a lot nicer than the old one... a good deal more understanding as well." Nine scracthed softly up and down the fox's back as he talked, relaxing the canid more and more. "I'll be a bit more leniant with the rules... as much as I can get away with, okay?"
The skunk chuckled a little bit and closed his eyes as he leaned back in his chair. "And that's why you're the most liked manager in the region, my friend..." He let his thought trail off as he reopened his eyes and gazed into the fireplace, despite it being devoid of any warming blaze today. He shook his head to rid himself of his daze and turned back to Silas. "Speaking of work, though, Lim and Tyll want me to go up to the mountains with them next month for a week. Would you be able to get someone to cover for me if I go?"
A nod came quickly in reply from the fox and he smiled. "Of course, Dare! You haven't taken a vacation... well, since I've been manager; a year, if my memory serves correctly. A week should be no trouble at all."
"Wonderful! I'll make sure to tell Lim the next time I see him." Dare glanced at the clock above the mantle and yawned a little, shaking his head to try and rid himself of his sleepiness. "Damn, it's so early and yet I'm so tired. Maybe Lex is rubbing off on me."
The fox and lemur across from him chuckled at the statement, Silas leaning back against Nine and closing his eyes with a smile. "Well you have been working later than usual over the past week. Maybe you should go rest a bit." Silas flicked his tail at the stairs across the room.
Dare slid out of his chair to his feet, starting towards the stairs with a laugh. "Maybe I should. Typical Sil, always worried about my health..." He trudged up the hardwood stairs and into a hallway at the top. He turned into the first room on his right and collapsed onto the bed within, his weariness overtaking his senses and pushing him into the warm embrace of sleep.