I've had it for a couple months now. My teammates knew I had a secret back in early October. So did coach. They still don't know what it is, and they've stopped asking. The local papers started asking me around then, and haven't stopped. I haven't told any of them what it is.
We had our first snowfall yesterday. The snow's still on the ground as we take the field against Chicago State. They've got this hot wideout, a cheetah named Rex Millen, he's on pace to score twenty touchdowns this year, in eleven games. Monster year.
It's cat against cat as we line up. I see him look at me and I know what he's thinking: too big, maybe he's fast but he ain't my kinda fast, juke past him and blow him away down the field, he's just lucky, that's why he's getting the numbers, but his luck runs out today. I know he's thinkin' that last part 'cause he says it, just as cool as the snow on the ground. "Your luck runs out today."
I grin back at him. "That's the only thing gonna be runnin' today," I tell him, and I glance up at the stands just like I do before every play.
Halfway up the student section, same seat every time, there's a fox. She's wearing a white blouse, maroon skirt, and if I'm lined up on the right side of the field, I can see the intensity of her bright blue eyes. If I look up while I'm on the bench, she's talking to the guys next to her, or sometimes she's looking back at me, but it's more relaxed, more casual, and I might get a smile then. Not when we're starting a play. She's watching me, and I look to make sure she's watching me, and then I line up.
I hear them hike the ball, but it's a distant sound. What I'm lookin' for is the motion ahead of me. He fidgets, this one, can't keep still, except when the play's about to start. I can see the focus in his eyes, and his tail stops moving. One second, almost exactly. Then I know where he's going and I beat him there.
I'm allowed to hit him within five yards. I take two steps and bump him, throw off his pattern, then I go where I guess he's going. If the quarterback's good, he sees the play is busted and he doesn't make the throw.
They've got a new QB, a big black wolf. He's good. But he's a freshman. He sees the busted play in the middle of his release, panics, tries to change direction, loses the ball. Fumble. Geoff, one of the two bulls on our defensive line, drops on it.
Eck is a coyote, my counterpart on the other side of the field. "He's gonna have to watch that play a couple hundred times," he says, and we laugh the laugh of guys who've been strapped down in front of the game film as we head to the bench together. I look up into the stands and get a smile.
I don't make any picks that game. There's one I coulda had, but it's late in the game and my paws are tired and it goes off my fingertips. I hold Rex to two catches, twelve yards total, before they give up on throwing it to him. He keeps up the trash talk all game, but by the fourth quarter he's on the bench and coach is giving some other frosh a chance. Coach puts Eck on the rook and me on the other side, but the game's over at that point anyway.
We're 7-1 midway through November. That's pretty good, case you don't know.
The guys razz me a bit. "Hey, Dev, no picks today, what'sa matter?"
"I felt bad for the kid," I tell 'em, grinning.
Randy, a big wolf who's my roommate and our middle linebacker, elbows me. "Maybe you should start comin' to the Fang with us again on Fridays."
They all wonder if that's my secret, that I don't go to the meat market on Fridays anymore. Randy thinks he knows, but he hasn't told anyone, unless you count hints like that one. Hard to keep a secret from your roommate. Not so hard with Randy as with some others, maybe, but still hard.
So I give him little hints here and there. Not deliberately, just enough that he can fit together the puzzle in not quite the right way. I hate to admit it, but I'm starting to have fun doin' it.
Course, when it comes to bein' sneaky, I've got the best teacher.
I've been sitting in Randy's car for almost an hour. The 32-oz Powerade is all gone; even with the windows down, I'm panting in the heat.
I know the name of the street I'm on, even though I didn't when I first arrived here last spring. And I know that the house I'm staring at and have been staring at for the last 56 minutes, according to the car's little LED clock, is the right one. I know a lot more than I did last spring, when I was sitting in this same car on this same street.
Two long months at home, on vacation from school, football, and this house. The first week was bad, but it slowly got better, and yesterday when I got back to school, I thought, I don't need to go back.
But all day yesterday, through orientation, lunch, warm-ups, I kept thinking that it wouldn't hurt to drive by. Most of the students probably aren't even back yet. Just to see if the house is still there.
All day yesterday and all day today, I fought it, and then, because we have the afternoon off, I asked Randy if I could borrow his car. I drove by the house fifty-seven minutes ago, stopped, and I haven't moved since. Twice I opened my door, once even put a paw out onto the street, then both times settled back into the seat and closed the door. I want to go up to the door, want it with a physical hunger. I want to drive away, to excise this complication from my life. I want, most of all, to be told what I want.
Two minutes later, just under the hour mark, the door of the house opens. The fox in a sleek peach-colored sundress stands in the doorway and smiles down at me. I get shivers all down my spine that make my tail curl, and there's no longer any doubt. Not with that smile and those blue eyes. My body, for a moment, is no more than a living memory shaped by those chocolate-brown paws.
I'm out of the car, up the front stairs, and standing at the door in no time, looking down into those eyes, and there's a sparkle in them that sets me tingling all over.
"I bought it for you," says the low, husky voice I've heard only in my dreams for two months. I take her slender shoulders in my paws and lean down for a kiss.
I have to close my eyes. The scent, the tongue, the paws sliding around me, the slight shiver in the body as my paws hold tight...
I get rid of Randy pretty easily. He's got things to do, and so do I. I know I'm not exactly inconspicuous as I walk down the street, but I'm relaxed, more confident, and I act like I belong there, just as I've been taught to. No school gear, no football jacket, just a six foot tall tiger strolling down the street.
I still look around to see if anyone's watching before I hurdle the steps to the house. In the shade of the porch, I ring the bell, and even though the fox lives on the third floor, I don't even have to wait for a minute before I'm following that bushy red tail up two flights of stairs. With each step, I get more and more excited, and by the time we get to the top, I'm bouncing on my heels and I get a smile and a husky, "Patience," as chocolate paws open the door and usher me inside.
We kiss again inside, and those paws trace my midriff, lifting my shirt, diving down my pants without hesitation. I moan as they caress me through my briefs, a throaty growl of a moan that brings a soft chuckle in reply. I keep my paws busy tracing that slim, taut rump, lifting the tail and unfastening the skirt in back.
It slides to the floor with a soft susurration. My paws slide over the bare fur under the tail, around the hips, and to the front. Beneath the silky white blouse, the plush white fur comes to a peak at a shapely ridge of white. Below it, a white-furred sac, and above, a hard pink shaft mirroring mine.
I pull him close so I can feel him all against me. He rubs his erection into my leg while his paws trace the length of mine.
That's a big secret. But it's not my biggest secret.
This is the moment where I hesitate. It's been two months, and feeling another cock against me is back to feeling as weird as it did in April. No, maybe not quite that weird, but strange enough to make me hesitate.
He leans his head back and the smile curving back to the corners of his muzzle is as familiar as his scent and the touch of his paws. "What's the matter?" he taunts me, lightly. "Been picturing me as a vixen for two months?"
Before I know what he's doing, he's taken my paw in his and put it right on his shaft. "There you go," he says, "in case you'd forgotten what it feels like."
How could I? I just look down at him, without moving my paw. My pads tingle where they touch the warm flesh. And the strangeness is fading as my memory comes back, takes over, pulls me to him again.
"That's better," he murmurs, and nuzzles my chest as I start to slide my paw up and down, remembering the feel of him and discovering it anew. It's nice to get that expression on his muzzle too, the closed eyes and soft, blissful smile. There's only one expression I like seeing more, and I have a feeling I'll be seeing it again before too long.
Eventually, he opens his eyes and touches my nipple with his cold nose, then his warm tongue. I shiver, and he nips, tugging the small button and then releasing it as he drops to his knees. The small paw holds me while his warm tongue laps slowly up my length.
This is the part where I have to brace myself against the wall.
He takes me all the way into his muzzle, warmth and bliss pounding in waves against me, but whatever rocky resistance I had to him has long since been worn to sand anyway. At some point, I start making a throaty growl of pleasure. I don't remember consciously doing it, but I can hear it, and I can tell from the flick of his ears that he can, too.
I'm breathing hard and my tail is lashing all over the place.
He stands up, steps back from where the peach dress is lying on the floor, and lets me look him up and down. I do, hungrily, drinking in the five-feet-and-change body, slender, probably half my weight. All white down the front, his chest puffed out with fur, not muscle. A stomach I could circle with both paws. Russet fur from a distance, but up close it's three different shades of orange, some as dark as brown, some almost yellow. Reminds me of the leaves in fall.
I never knew another guy could be that gorgeous. Or turn me into a fucking poet.
He reaches out one brown paw and wraps it around my slick shaft and tugs, not too gently pulling me to the bed. I growl a bit and play at resisting before following. His smile says "who are you kidding" without having to let the words pass his lips.
At the bed, he pushes on my chest with one gentle paw. I've had two hundred and fifty pounds of wolf push against me and not given up ground. I go down on the bed and lie on my back like a lap dog.
He climbs on top of me, straddling my stomach and wagging that soft, long, fluffy tail over my shaft. I put my paws on his hips.
His long pink member bobs in front of my nose. Just like diving off the high dive, I make up my mind and move forward before my better judgment can stop me, tongue out, eyes closed. I can smell his musk just fine, and when the tip of my tongue brushes his underside, I can hear the shift in his breathing.
It's not nearly as bad as I've told myself it would be. It's sort of like licking myself, but smaller, and stronger smelling. I lick again, keeping my momentum now that I've gotten started, and I can feel the slightest tremble in his hips as I push my tongue up, letting his shaft drop back against it before I lick up again.
I feel the whole length, starting at the base and getting a good noseful of his scent in the process. My tongue is big enough to cup his shaft in it, and I do so, rubbing up and down and holding his legs in place 'cause he's starting to squirm. I give it to him for a bit longer and then open my eyes to look up at him.
His tongue is hanging out of the side of his muzzle and he grins down at me when I stop. "There you go," he said. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"
"Not bad." He touches my nose with a fingertip. "It's all about practice."
"Yeah, yeah." I know he's just teasing. So I squeeze him around the hips and purr, "Speaking of practice, isn't it about time you practice stretching that tight little hole of yours?"
"If I saw you more than once a week, it wouldn't be so tight," he purrs back. For a fox, he purrs like a pro.
"If I saw you more than once a week," I gasp as he sits back, wiggling his tight little rump a lot more than is really needed to get my aching member into him, "I wouldn't have enough energy left to play football."
Warmth surrounds me. The movement of his slinky body on top of me and the tightness gripping my cock, all of it sends shivers through me, making my fur ultra-sensitive to every touch. His tail brushing my legs is a lover's caress. His paws on my stomach and chest are bliss. And when he whispers something like "I'll have to test that theory sometime," and leans over to kiss me, all the words I know are driven out of my head. All I can do is hold his sides, hold him against me, and drive my hips up again and again into that amazing warmth.
Somewhere in there my paw gets wrapped around his shaft, and I'm milking it eagerly. The motion feeds back into my sensations, and I can feel the roar working in my throat as everything just gets better and better. I hold on, wanting it to last, but it slips away, upward and outward, and I roar into his muzzle, feeling his body shake with my passion and his own.
Until last April, I used to say that picking off a pass and returning it for a score was better than sex.
"Why don't you wear panties?" I ask. We're lying in bed naked, still panting and messy, but uncoupled. His apartment doesn't have any air conditioning, and even with the windows open, the heat is stifling. I've been tracing my paws along the lines of his fur and he's been painting my stripes with his brown fingers. For the moment, my confusion is gone.
"Do you want me to?" he parries, his fingers lightly teasing, his blue eyes fixed on mine.
He studies me for a moment longer, and then grins. "I don't get off on it," he said. "It's just so I can see you in public."
"You bought a new dress." My paw is resting on his spent and sticky sheath as I say it. I'm dimly aware that in another life, another me would cut his paw off rather than put it on another guy's cock. I hope that other me doesn't remember this moment, if he comes back.
"So you bought a dress just to be able to kiss me at the door?"
"Well," he says, "would you be rubbing my sheath if I'd answered the door in my t-shirt and Dockers?"
"Sure," he echoes, and then slides away from me, towards the bathroom. "Want to hop in the shower?"
I watch him stand up and all those thoughts about leaves come back as he smooths his fur. But the shower...we've never showered together. He's never asked.
He tilts his muzzle. "You'll fit," he says. "You've showered here before."
"I know. I just don't want to." And because I don't want to tell him the real reason, I say, "Just leave it."
Out comes the dreaded arched eyebrow. "So you'll fuck a guy up the ass, but won't clean up with him afterwards? Don't you shower with your football buddies all the time?"
I had forgotten the way he seems to know exactly what I'm thinking and cuts right to it. He should be pre-med, I've told him, the way he makes incisions. "Yeah, Doc, and maybe I don't want to be thinking about this shower in that shower. Okay?"
"Okay, stud," he says. 'Stud' is his name for me when he's mad at me because I'm being a dumb jock. 'Doc' is my name for him when he's over-analyzing me. Even though the context is argumentative, the use of the old names from last spring is reassuring and familiar, even though we're just fuck-buddies.
He shrugs, and walks into the bathroom, swaying his tail behind him and swinging that cute butt back and forth. At the door, he stops and poses and says, in that Lauren Bacollie voice, "If you change your mind, just come on in."
I'm halfway to the bathroom before I remind myself why I shouldn't go in. I'm at the door before I actually make myself stop.
Two weeks later, late summer breezes that rattle the leaves outside rustle past his blinds and cool the apartment. My fingers mirror their movement inside, through the softness of his fur. He's lying on his stomach, muzzle turned towards me, paws under the pillow, letting me stroke him. I have the impression that it was a little painful for him this time, but he hasn't said anything and I haven't asked.
"I saw you at the game," I say after a couple minutes.
The corners of his muzzle wrinkle. "There's a reason I wore that outfit and sat in the front row. It still took you two whole quarters to notice."
It was true; I hadn't seen him 'til we were running in at halftime. "It was our first game. I was excited."
"You certainly weren't concentrating on defense."
"You know," he says, one blue eye piercing me, "I've seen these muscles up close and personal. I know what you can do and when you're just going through the motions."
"Mm-hmm." His tail sways slowly from side to side. "First play of the second quarter. You let that puma get past you. You could've stopped him easy. You were lucky he dropped the ball."
I open my muzzle to say something, but then I remember the play, and I close it again. He goes on. "You're not in any danger of losing your job. Your partner, though, what's his name, Mike? If he doesn't shape up, that coyote will be starting before October."
Coach had yelled that at Mike, the other defensive back, but he'd yelled it in the locker room and I hadn't mentioned it. I trace the curve of his spine with a claw, and he shivers. "What else?"
He yawns. "You're sloppy lining up. Looks like you're joking with that wolf and you just kind of get close to your spot."
"So?" I'm starting to freak out a little bit. It's like I was just fucking my coach.
"So they put you in a spot for a reason. You line up a foot to one side, it throws off your moves."
"What about the rest of the team?" I've got a paw on his butt and I move it back up to his back, not wanting to remember the sex while we're talking about football.
He blinks, slowly. "I was only watching you. I didn't know I was supposed to report on the whole team."
Now there's a definite smile to his muzzle. "I've watched guys prance around in tight pants since I was eleven. It's pretty, but it gets boring if you don't think about it some."
"Don't you like me better out of the tight pants?"
He just grins at me. I relax a little. "What does it matter, anyway? Why not just have fun? Weren't you the one who said we're all Division II jocks with no sniff of playing professionally?"
His blue eyes meet mine and his ears flick back, then forward. "Well," he says softly, "I guess I'm not always right."
"That's a relief," I say, and he snaps back with something about a higher batting average and I ask him what sport he thinks I play, anyway.
The phone rings. We got caller ID last month, so I say, "Hi, Mom," as I pick it up.
"Hi, sweetie," Mom says. "How are you? Are you nervous?"
"No. It's just another game."
"Because we all think it's just wonderful what you're doing, but you understand, if you don't play well today, we'll all understand."
I wish our new phone had a cord I could wrap around my paw as I start to pace around the room. "What do you mean, if I don't play well?"
"Oh, I'm sure you will," she says unconvincingly. "I just don't want you to feel bad if you don't."
"How's Gregory?" I ask, because I'd rather hear her babble for five minutes about my brother in law school than listen to any more of the excruciating conversation about how I'm going to fail eventually. I get my wish. Then I get to talk to my dad.
"Nice play last couple games," he says.
"Been working out more?"
I'm certainly not telling my parents my secret. I give them the line I give the paper. "Things just started to click."
"Hm." There's a moment's pause, and then he says, "If you'd played like that in high school, you'd be at North State now."
"Come on, Dad," I say, trying to make a joke out of it. "My grades weren't bad enough for North State."
He just grunts and says, "Coulda played wherever you want."
I'm tired of this conversation, too. "How's the store?"
I get a couple clipped comments, another few lines with Mom, and then I tell them I need to run off to morning practice. Which I do, but not for another half hour, so when I hang up, I sink back into bed and sigh. Aren't parents supposed to make you feel good?
The phone rings again.
It's my turn to soap now, so I'm rubbing the shampoo into his backfur, and then into his tail, which I lift up to rub. I like the way he shivers when I do that, just a tiny twitch. Probably he thinks I don't notice, or maybe he wants me to think that he thinks I don't notice. Anyway, it's cute, so I do it a lot. Three times during this shower alone.
"We're working really hard on this play," he says unexpectedly.
"Square Room," he says. "It's a dram-mmmmmmmmma." I chose that moment to soap up under his tail, and I leave my paw there as he leans back into it. If we hadn't just spent ourselves half an hour ago, I'd leave it there longer. As it is, I feel a little stirring, and when I reach around to soap between his legs, he's not fully relaxed either. But it's been a long day, and we're both tired.
"It's about a family of foxes. The father uncovers something in the mother's past and they have to work through it." He talks as we rinse off. "It's a pretty talky piece. Probably not really your speed."
"Probably not," I say agreeably, helping brush the soap from his fur. I feel way too mellow to rise to his bait.
He switches gears as we rub down with towels. "Is Tuesday the day you don't have practice?"
He knows that, and snorts. "So I can tell the North Hillman coach where to poison your food before next week's game. What do you think?"
I join him in bed, knowing that whatever he wants, I'll end up giving him.
He sits down across from me in the Maple Hall cafeteria, 12:02 pm on Tuesday. If it weren't for the blue eyes and the confidence with which he sits down, I might not recognize him: he's wearing, not a blouse, but a collared shirt that lets only a small puff of his white chest fur show, and his butt, instead of being a suggestive curve under a skirt, is tightly defined by his jeans.
I've never looked at a guy that way in public before. I wonder if people can tell.
"Nice day," he says, glancing outside where the leaves are just starting to turn, spots of yellow in the green, and the blue sky behind them.
"Yeah," I say, taking another bite of turkey tetrazini.
"Oh, stop worrying." He pitches his voice low. "Nobody cares that we're eating together."
"What if someone saw me going to your place," I say, very low, "and then sees me here. And puts it together?"
He wrinkles his nose at the first bite he lifts to his muzzle, pops it in with a faintly disgusted look. "I think you give the students here far too much credit," he says while chewing. "The brainiacs in my building still think I'm rooming with my sister."
He nods. "One of them said to me the other day, 'hey, you know your sister has a big boyfriend who comes over when you're out.'"
I feel cold worry clamp my stomach. "They saw me?"
"Of course they did, Dev. You're not exactly invisible. Anyway, I told him, 'she's my sister, not my girlfriend. She's a big girl.' And that was the end of that." He shrugs and takes another bite. "So chill."
"Easy for you to say, doc," I grumble. "You're not risking anything."
"I'm risking having a studly boyfriend on the football team." He tosses off a smile which I don't register immediately because I can't fucking believe he just said that out loud, even if he did whisper it.
"Shhh!!" I hiss, panicked.
The smile shifts to one of his cocky grins. "Chill," he says. "Nobody's close enough to hear. I know. I have excellent hearing myself."
"Well, listen to this," I snarl, aware that fear is giving my voice an edge I don't necessarily want it to have. "This was a stupid idea and I don't want to do it again."
I watch his ears fold back, but he only gives me that shrug and says, "Fine."
We eat in silence for a bit, and then are interrupted by two young coyote girls who want to know if I'm really on the football team and if I'm really Devlin Miski, who returned an interception for the winning score against St. Francis two weeks ago. Lee mutters something about my four interceptions last week, but they don't appear to be able to see or hear him, so I nod and smile, and thank them for watching. They ask if I can introduce them to Eck, and I tell them to come on down to the Fang on Friday night if they want to meet him.
"See?" he says as they walk away. "I'm invisible."
I can't tell whether he's pleased about that or not. When he wants to be neutral, he's very hard to read. "To them," I say, but for whatever reason, the fear and panic has subsided. "But they're just girls, after all."
I know he has a little misanthropic streak, and sure enough, he grins in response. "Looking for a daddy. They saw what they wanted and put the blinders on."
I hate to say it, but the rest of the lunch is really pretty pleasant. We talk about our classes and stuff we never talk about in bed, and by the time he gets up to run to his World Civilizations seminar, I don't even blink when he says, "Next week?" I just nod.
I watch him leave, and as I'm putting my tray on the conveyor belt and thinking about our lunch, I remember the smile he gave me, the one when he called me his boyfriend. I would've thought he would be wearing his possessive smile, or his I'm-saying-something-to-shock-you smile, or his cocky, cleverer-than-you smile, but it was none of those. It was, as far as I could tell, a genuine, full-on, I'm-happy smile, and as I stroll out into the crisp fall air, I wonder if my little fox has some secrets of his own.
I want to go to the play by myself, but Randy is all curious about why I want to see something called "The Square Room," and I can't stop him from coming along. He looks dubious when we get there and see the hand-painted signs and the hand-painted bunny handing out flyers. She, on the other paw, doesn't blink an eye, just smiles with both teeth and hands us the playbill, a folded-over photocopy.
Randy looks even more dubious when mine doesn't follow his into the trash can just inside the doors. I don't notice his look until I've found the name "Wiley Farrel" on the cast list. Then I see him looking at me out of the corner of his eye, and I shove the paper casually into my pocket.
My fox is not the lead in the play, but he's the main supporting character, and he's good. I wish I knew more about theater so I could tell him that, the way he knows about football. All I know is if I hadn't read his name in the program, I wouldn't know it was him.
Randy sits quietly through the first act, in which the main characters fight and the wife retreats to her bedroom. My fox plays the teenaged daughter, and I think I understand why he is playing a girl: the parents are both foxes. There must be a shortage of vixens in the troupe, and the wife is the larger part. She's not bad, but my fox is great.
In the second act, Randy gets restless and starts fidgeting, then whispering things to me like, "Why did she only brush part of her tail?" and "is that supposed to be a lemon pie?" and "Why does he put up with her? If it was me, I'd break the door down!" I try to ignore him, but I find myself agreeing with him. When my fox isn't on stage, my attention wanders, and I can't honestly say I understand the bleak ending. But we clap along with the rest of the crowd when it's over and ignore the whispers of the people around us who were offended by our talking during the movie. Hey, if the play were better, they'd be able to tune us out.
We go down to Smokey's afterwards, a bar for drinking, not a meat market. Randy slurps his Coors and I get a Miller, and he grins at me. "So that's it, huh?"
"What?" It looks like he thinks he's figured out something.
"That vixen, huh? You're seeing her on the side, right? That's who the phone calls are from?"
I get a cold shiver. It takes me a couple seconds to remember that there were two vixens in the play, because I can only think of my faux-vixen. "Which one?" I ask cagily.
"Hey," he says, "It's okay with me if you wanna get serious outside your species. No worries about abortions or anything, right?" Good old Randy, always getting right to the heart of the matter.
The good thing is, he just wanted to know. And now that he does, or thinks he does, he's happy. He knows something the rest of the team doesn't. I figure I'll take him to a couple more plays, keep him happy, hope he doesn't ask too many questions. Let him think he knows my secret. He's closest of anyone, and still not close enough that I'm worried.
Until two weeks later, when I return to the room to find him sitting on his bed, talking to my fox in blouse and skirt.
I stop dead in the doorway, muzzle hanging partway open. Randy's tail is wagging, making thumping sounds against the bed. "Hey," he says, grinning so wide I expect to see canary feathers sticking out of his muzzle. "I ran into Lee outside the theater and invited her back to the room. You should bring her round more often."
"Yes, dear," he says, and I can see from the glint in his blue eyes that he's enjoying this. "You have such a charming roommate."
I look around. "I'm sorry," I say, stalling while I think of how to get him out of here without Randy getting suspicious. "Did you mean the wolf there who once tried to fart Beethoven's Fifth?"
"Oh!" Lee feigns interest. At least, I hope he's feigning. "He has a taste for the classics."
"The taste of Old Hilltown." I cross to my bed and sit down.
Randy hadn't been quite sure how to take my remark, but he'd grinned throughout. The mention of beer restored his confidence. Now he gestures to the little fridge we have. "I've got a couple left, if you want..."
"That's okay," Lee says. "I'm sure it's better in my imagination." He turns to me and gives me a smile. "No kiss?"
Oh, god. He wants to kiss in front of Randy. I look back at him and watch his smile curve up a little bit more. It seems impossible that Randy won't notice the things I can't help seeing: the slightly broader, male muzzle; the way the hips don't quite flare enough; the roughness around the base of the claws. But I can't think of a good excuse not to go over, and Randy's still grinning that I-found-you-out grin, and so I walk over and lean down, intending to give him a soft peck on the muzzle.
I get a muzzle full of fox tongue and an instant hard-on. We don't hold the kiss as long as we normally do, but it's plenty. I pull back and sit down hard on my bed, only dimly hearing Randy's "Wooooo!"
Lee's licking his lips and smiling. I can't believe there's no bulge under his skirt like there is in my jeans. Randy rubs his paws together. "I see what you see in her, Dev. Woof! I wish I could find a nice bitch to kiss me like that."
"Oh, I bet there's more than just bitches would kiss you like that," the fox says nonchalantly. My claws sink into the bed. Why is he doing this?
"Sure," Randy says, so calmly I can't believe it. "But I don't really like goin' outside my species. Just me personally," he says hurriedly. "Dev here, he likes sleepin' around. That's cool with me."
"Oh, does he?" Lee says, and turns to me.
I still can't believe Randy didn't pick up on what he meant by the last comment. Fortunately, Randy is more worried about what he's said.
"Oh, I mean, he used to. But not this year. He doesn't come to Fang no more. That's why I thought he was seeing someone seriously. I dunno why he didn't introduce us before."
"Yes, Dev, why on Earth didn't you?" The fox smiles.
"Because I wanted to keep you all to myself," I say through gritted teeth.
Randy slaps his knee and grins. "He's always like that," he says. "Won't let me copy off him in History class either."
The fox's ears flick, and I see the beginnings of trouble in his eyes. "I didn't think you had trouble passing classes anyway," he says. "Doesn't your coach take care of that?"
"Sure," Randy says, to demonstrate his one big talent besides football: saying exactly the wrong thing. Then he actually follows that up with something half-reasonable: "But we're all jealous of guys like Dev who don't need any help."
"Hey," I say, heading off the next biting comment from the fox, "how about we go grab something to drink? Or eat?"
We decide on the local pizza place, which in retrospect turns out to be probably the worst idea I've had in a long time.
Lee just gets a soda. Diet, of course. Randy and I get our favorite: two slices with everything. We're chowing down, and the conversation is at least not as pointed as it had been getting in the room, when another plate flops onto the table next to me and three hundred pounds of bear slams down into the plastic chairs, which are much sturdier than they look. "Hey, Dev, hey, Randy."
"Hey, Jack." Jack is the anchor of our defensive line. And if he's here, then the other three are not far behind. I watch Lee's eyes as the other bear, the elephant, and the stallion pull chairs up to our table. They all want to meet Lee, and I introduce her as my World Cultures tutor, with a warning glance at Randy. He gives me a broad wink that only a mole--or four football players gorging on pizza--could miss.
The fox, meanwhile, is keeping his cool, but after a few minutes I notice that he's sitting a little too straight, his ears keep flicking ever so slightly around, and his tail is bushier than normal. I keep half an ear to the conversation while I try to remember where I've seen that before. And it comes to me as I finish the last of my pizza.
The rapid ear-flicks and the bushy tail, at least, I remember from the time I barged into his building, wild-eyed, a week after our first night together, when he'd tricked me into bed. He didn't know whether I was going to kiss him or beat him up, and though he had a brave face on, as he does now, it was clear that he was a little scared.
Once I realize it, it's as obvious to me as all the signs that he's male.
"Hey, Lee," I say, and his muzzle snaps over to me. "Didn't you say you have an early class tomorrow? Come on, I'll walk you home."
He looks like he wants to argue, especially when Jack says, "Ah, just sleep through it," but I reach out and take his paw, and he gets up.
"Awfully nice to meet you all," he says, the brush of his tail going down and his ears settling as well. "Hope we can do this again sometime."
Outside, he walks stiffly beside me, the chill of the wintry air nothing to what he's giving off. "So how did you--" I finally start, trying to make conversation, and he interrupts.
"Rescued the poor, helpless fairy from the big, mean, football players," he said. "That what you're thinking?" He's not using his vixen's voice, which is a little disconcerting.
"Didn't I tell you that I could take care of myself?"
"What, tonight?" I'm thoroughly confused. I thought I was doing something nice by helping him out of a scary situation. I can't figure out what I did wrong.
"I certainly don't need your help to protect myself from a bunch of primitive jocks like that."
"Hey," I say. "They're not all that bright, but they're not bad guys."
"Sure," he says, "if you need a pickle jar opened or a faggot beaten up."
"Is that what this is about? I told you, those guys aren't on the team any more. We don't hang out with them."
"Oh, like it makes a difference which specific guys it was. They're all the same."
I stop, paws on my hips, and for a moment I think he's not going to stop. Then he does, a few steps further, turns and looks at me. "Well?"
Blue eyes narrow in the yellow light of the street lamp. A raccoon walks past us and we endure his nervous glances as he walks between us, not wanting to get in the middle of our quarrel. Whether he heard the vixen talking with a tod's voice, we can't tell, but he disappears around the corner and then Lee talks, more quietly, but no less passionately.
"Well, I've been a good influence on you, haven't I?"
"You? You?" Now I'm the one raising my voice, and he walks away. "Hey! Don't...Listen, I..." I'm incoherent, sputtering, trying to form the thoughts into words, and I don't want to run after him because I know that's what he wants me to do, and I curse my paws as they take me down the street and around the corner he's just turned.
"Listen, Doc," I say, "I am who I am, and...and don't take credit for everything just because you think you're so clever. It's not because of you that you didn't get beat up that night when I came back. It's because of me."
"Oh," he says in his smug voice, the one that sets my fur on end, "I think it had something to do with me."
"Christ!" I explode. "You can be such a fucking bitch sometimes!"
A white fox on the opposite side of the street turns at my words and looks at us for a moment, clearly wondering if he should intervene and hoping he won't have to. I wave him on, growling, "Sorry. It's okay," and a moment later he wraps his leather jacket around himself and moves on.
"And you, stud," Lee hisses, "can be a tremendous idiot."
He walks on. I clench my fists, willing myself to just turn around and go home. Don't follow him, I tell myself.
"Look," I say, striding alongside him. He lifts his nose just a bit and doesn't look at me. "I got you out of there because it looked like a bad situation. I was just trying to help!"
"I've told you, I don't need your help," he says.
"Apparently it takes a few tries to get you to understand some things," he says tartly.
"You know," I say, "You go on about how football players like to beat up faggots and how we're just primitive jocks and yet you seem happy to sit there at a table with a bunch of them, just begging for trouble. Why would you do that, huh? Why not just leave them alone?"
"Leave them alone," he snaps. "Easy for you to say. Why don't they just leave us alone?"
For a moment, I think he means me and him, not the collective non-football-playing gay population. "Why can't you let that go?"
"Just let it go. Don't think about it. Is that right? How appropriate for a football player." He turns away.
I run after him, grab his shoulder. He wrenches it free and takes another couple steps. I glare at him. "That's not fair."
I can see his breath as he pants. "Neither was what happened to Brian."
His ears go back, but not in an angry way. I see retorts flash across his eyes, but he bites them back and just turns away again.
I don't have to run to catch him, and this time, he doesn't pull away when I grab his shoulder and turn him towards me. Light mist hangs in the air between us, the fog of our breath combined with the chill of the night. His scent is strong in my nose; I can smell his anger matching mine, and all the other emotions below it. I feel like slapping him or screaming at him.
"Don't just walk away from me, dammit!" I say, louder than is necessary.
"Oh, now I'm not supposed to just let it go? Didn't you just want me to leave all those football players alone?" His eyes are piercing, challenging me, and I want to shake him, he's being so frustrating. I grab his other shoulder and he puts his paws on my stomach, bracing himself to push away from me, and we stay frozen there.
I can feel his heat, the pounding of his heart matching the quick lashing of my tail. My paws are tight on his shoulders, my blood is hot, and I'm thinking I should've just walked away. Let us both cool off, that'd be the sensible thing to do. But I don't want to be cool. Part of my anger is knowing that he's right, and I'm sure I see in his eyes that he knows that I'm right too. But there's more in his eyes, too; the anger isn't uppermost anymore, though it lingers in his scent. What I see there mirrors what's battling with anger inside me, and I see the change in my expression reflected in his eyes.
In a heartbeat, in the silence with his question hanging in the air, the tension between us changes, and we both feel it. We're both all worked up, and it doesn't matter that it was an argument that did it. We're breathing hot and heavy, warming the night, and anger and bitterness are subsumed into something else as I look back into his blue eyes and say, "No... don't let go." Then I'm crushing him to me and we're together and kissing in the middle of the street, and the chill of the night is gone. All I can feel is his heat against mine. Our clothes might as well not even be there. I've got one paw down on his tail and he's cupping my butt in his and I thank god he's in his blouse and skirt, because I didn't even stop to think about what passersby might see.
"How many blocks to your house?" I pant raggedly when we wrench ourselves apart.
"We'll get there faster if I carry you," I say, and for once, he doesn't spurn my help.
And there's still my one big secret left to tell.
It's the morning of our first real game. Randy's ritual to kick off the season is to be hung over Saturday morning, so when the phone rings, he howls and clutches his head. "Shut it off!!"
I grin and grab the phone. "Probably coach making sure we're up," I say, clicking the phone on. "Hello?"
"Hi," his voice says in my ear, low and husky. Lauren Bacollie. I freeze.
After a moment of silence, I get, "Hello?" His normal voice.
"I'll make this quick. I just wanted to remind you what you can do. I'm looking forward to being impressed today."
"Of course. I wouldn't miss it. I'll wear your favorite outfit."
I smile. The last few preseason games, he's shown up in his regular clothes, with friends. "Coming alone?"
"Okay." I don't ask him to explain why his friends won't care if he dresses like a woman in public. If anyone can explain, Lee can. "I'll see you there, then."
"Make me proud." For that, he goes back to the husky feminine voice, and I'm shivering just a bit as I hang up.
I'm all ready to explain to Randy that it was a friend of mine from out of town, but he's still holding his head and moaning, and doesn't seem to care.
Game time is crazy, the stadium's packed and fans going nuts, but I spot Lee in the stands almost immediately. He's halfway up the student section, in blouse and skirt, talking with friends. We don't acknowledge each other, but I know he sees me see him. With that done, I turn my full attention to the game.
I've been getting better through the preseason, but this game is something else. I can't even say for sure what's different, not until later. All I know is I'm remembering everything and I'm hungry for the ball. I understand for the first time what they mean when they say that the game comes to you. It's an amazing feeling.
I pick off three passes before they stop throwing to my side, and bust more plays than I can count. I even save a touchdown when I force a fumble from their running back. Mike gets torched twice for scores, but we win by a field goal anyway.
After the game, coach gives me the game ball--my first one ever. I take it with me that night even though it's stupid, I could be recognized, but I don't care. I want him to see it.
Of course, when I get to the apartment, there are a couple other balls that demand my attention. Our clothes don't last long, and pretty soon we're on the bed and playing and talking a bit like we do. He makes some remarks about me getting lucky, and finally I say, "I'm not lucky, I'm good."
His foxy, cocky grin stretches from ear to ear. "I told you you were," he says.
"So, what," I ask, still capable of speech because although we are naked and rubbing pretty heavily against each other, he hasn't yet reached over for the lube to finish off our little play. I'm so jazzed inside I almost don't need it. "You got some Bull Durham thing goin' on here?"
He laughs. "I'm not that old. Do I look it?" His paw reaches to the side table.
There goes my speech center. I just shake my head. Something cool slides along my cock. Anticipation and arousal have me twitching and squirming, so I take it out on his erection, since he's takin' his sweet time. He squirms a bit, then leans in and says, "Do I feel that old?" as he sits back on me and oh dear god everything just melts away for those glorious few minutes.
When I finish my shower, he's lying under the covers, and I grab my football before joining him. He raises an eyebrow. "I'm not that loose," he says.
I flip it to him and he bobbles it, catches it against his chest. "Game ball?"
"Yeah." I scoot under the covers and grin. No, more than a grin; I can't stop my teeth from showing.
He looks shrewdly up at me. "It's good," he says. "That's real good." He places the ball carefully on the floor. "You going to get eleven more?"
I wanted him to be more impressed than that. Eleven more? "Can't I just be proud of this one?"
"You should be," he says, and yawns hugely. "I am."
He says it simply, without emphasis, as though it's the most natural thing in the world. When I don't say anything in reply, he leans up for a soft kiss, and then turns away to back up against me. I put my arm around him and pull him tight against me, trapping his bushy and still-damp tail against my chest, wiggling my sheath between his cheeks, resting my muzzle between his ears. He goes to sleep almost immediately. I lie awake.
How can two simple words keep me staring at his wall, holding my breath for fear I'll wake up and have dreamed them? How can this little fox make the best day of my life even better? I wish there were better words to say how I'm feeling. The best I can do is to say it feels like I'm stuck under his tail and living that moment of release over and over again, only the point of release is not inside my groin. It's inside my chest, and I've never felt anything like it before.
I brush the fur on his chest, not wanting to go to sleep, not wanting this moment to end, ever. I bury my nose in his fur and close my eyes and inhale. I can feel myself drifting off, and I think, I want to feel like this again. I will feel like this again. I'll make him proud of me.
And I know that I'm not just doing it for him, but also for me. I don't mind doing it for him, though; he's the one who gives me that little push that I needed, gives me something to play for. He's my Gipper, my Rudy, my dying-kid-in-the-hospital-wing.