Story (c) 2000 by Keith Dickinson. All rights reserved.
Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, Tabitha, Carli, Tammy Vixen
Vixen, Clarisse, and Carrie Squirrel (c) Eric W. Schwartz. Character
John Barrett. Character Thomas Woolfe (c) Michael Higgs. Characters
Susan Felin, Cindy Lapine, Debbye Squirrel, Clarence Skunk, Mr. Canis,
Collie, Angel Collie, Sarge and Endora Mustelidae, Wendy Vixxen, and
Vixen(c) Chris Yost. Character Florence Ambrose (c) Mark Stanley.
ZigZag (c) Max BlackRabbit. Character Cyberhorn (c) William Morris.
Terl Skunk (c) Rodney Stringwell. Character James Sheppard and Marvin
James Bruner. Character John Silverback (c) Himself Character Kittiara
restaruant "Callahan's" (c) "Kittiara" Character Katja (c) Herself
Mark the cheetaur (c) Mark White Eric W. Schwartz (c) Mr. and Mrs.
Michael Jones (c) Martin Pedersen. Arden Eastridge (c) Keith
Dickson. All rights to additional characters
reserved by their respective owners.
Arriving at Sheila's, I pulled in to the driveway and parked the car. The memorial had continued on for hours after toast. Someone had brought a copy of Logan's memorial special as well as a few of the blooper reels from Bjorn's career. All in all, I was glad to have been able to attend.
Locking the door behind me, I was ambushed by Sheila as I turned around. Grabbing my ears, she pulled me down to her level and laid one of her kisses on me. Straightening up as she released me, I found my back against the door. "What was that for?" I asked. Wrapping her arms around me, she looked up at me with a content smile. "Because I love you. Despite all that's happened, I still love you as much as ever," she said quietly. Jesus what can you say to that?
Returning the hug, I felt worse than before. Bjorn was dead. It was my fault and the woman I so desperately loved was now in my arms again. Didn't she understand that I had to leave her soon? How could this get any worse?
Releasing me, she walked into the condo and headed for her room while I waited in the living room. Sitting down, I tried to get control of myself. That kiss and the hug had aroused me and I didn't like it. It felt like I was moving in on Bjorn's ghost.
Taking the suit off, I used the hangar to keep it neat and laid it over the back of the couch. Pulling on some blue Gym shorts, I sat down and relaxed on the couch. This had been a very draining day for me, both emotionally and physically. Closing my eyes, I did some breathing exercises to try and get rid of the fatigue. After about ten minutes, I heard Sheila calling me, asking for my help.
Getting up, I waked into the bedroom to see the Sheila standing in the middle of the room, nude. Seeing the confusion on my face, she told me firmly, "Come here." Shaking my head, I looked away, closing my eyes. "I'm sorry Sheila, but I can't," I said, ashamed at my body's reaction. Padding over to me, she took my face and pulled it towards her. "Look at me," she said quietly, "Please, my love."
Looking down into those gorgeous green eyes. Her fur, normally bound in the back hung over her shoulders. The smell of her scent was intoxicating.
Duty and Honor, I had given her to Bjorn. It wasn't right to take her back so soon. My reflection in her eyes showed the conflict going on within me. Closing my eyes, I spoke, "I'm sorry Sheila, I can't do this." As she ran her hands through the fur on my chest, she spoke. "I loved Bjorn, and I'll miss him terribly, but I love you too. I know you've got to leave me soon too. Please, don't deny me this time we have left. I realized tonight that life is too precious for us to deny the love we hold," she said, pleading quietly, "I need you to love me. Take me in your arms, hold me and prove that you're still here for me. That you still love me."
Opening my eyes, I could see the tears brimming in her eyes as Sheila pleaded with me. Prove that I still loved her, how could I refuse. Bending, I wrapped my arms around her waist and gently lifted her. Our muzzles locked in a kiss matching our embrace; I carried her over to the bed. The last of my resistance crumbled as I heard the memory of Bjorn's voice in my head, emphasizing that Sheila's happiness was what was most important to him.
Looking at the clock, Sheila saw that it was almost one in the morning. Climbing quietly out of bed, she went into the bathroom. Relieving herself, she then stopped to examine her appearance in the mirror. She still felt the warm glow that came after making love. Pulling out the drawer by the sink, she once again looked at her box of birth control items.
Before calling Arden in, she had made the final decision not to use protection. Once again looking at the diaphragm and tube of contraceptive gel, she asked herself, "Am I doing the right thing? What right do I have, taking a child from him and not telling?"
Duty and Honor. Arden said those were the traits of the Dragon and he must walk that path. If that's so, then he would never be able to leave her if he knew what she intended.
Placing the box back inside the drawer, she noted the hormone suppressants that she normally used for birth control. Knowing Bjorn was coming, she had stopped using them. She had to do it every so often anyway, but by timing it with Bjorn's appearance, she intentionally threw herself into near state of heat. It was the secret to their intensity on and off the screen. Now it would be the secret to her keeping a piece of the one man remaining that she loved before he too must leave.
Smiling into the mirror, she gave herself a wink before turning out the light and returning to bed. It was time to wake up lover boy and remind him just what falling in love with a vixen was all about.
As I was rudely awakened, again, I found Sheila sitting on my stomach, using the tips of her paws to tickle my side. Grabbing them, I quickly stopped her. "Good lord woman! Can't a man get any sleep around you?" I asked, a wide smile on my face. Leaning over, she began nibbling my neck, while rubbing her tail around in the general vicinity of my groin. "Not if I can help it," she explained between nips.
Letting my arms flop to the side, I let out an exaggerated sigh. "If I didn't know better, I'd swear you're in heat," I declared. Nibbling on my right ear, I heard her respond, "Who's to say I'm not?"
That got my attention. Pushing her shoulders away from me, I stared at her. "What do you mean you're in heat?" I asked, distressed. Not being able to nip me directly, she began raking her claws up and down my chest. I had the choice of holding her up or stopping her claws. I decided on stopping the claws.
Holding them firmly so she could'nt torture me with them, I raised my eyebrows, looking for an answer. Leaning forward, she rubbed the side of her muzzle against mine. "When Bjorn was scheduled to come, I stopped taking my hormone suppressants," she gave as an explanation. Making the connection, I used her hands to push her back up. "What about getting pregnant? Aren't you worried?" I asked, concerned at the possibility. Laughing, she continued torturing me with her tail. "Silly boy. I've been dealing with this since well before you were a bear," she said with a leer. "You don't seriously believe the pill is the only contraceptive I have access to."
Sliding her body down towards my groin, she me a sly grin. Rolling my eyes up into my head, I gave her a kiss. "I'll be glad when you go back to work. You're gonna kill me you keep this pace up."
Even as I said it I knew it was a mistake. Sheila froze, her face just wilted. "Oh God Sheila. I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that," I said, begging her forgiveness. Shaking her head, she sat back and looked down on me and said, "It's not that. I'm leaving the studio."
You could have knocked me over with a feather, if I hadn't already been lying down that is. "Oh no love. Don't say that. Don't tell me you're giving up ZZ's." I begged. Shaking her head she looked away from my eyes. "I'm sorry, but my heart just isn't in it. There's too much pain there for me right now. Maybe some day I'll come back, but for now..." she said, letting her explanation trail off. Leaning forward, she gave me a kiss. "So you see. You're my farewell performance, at least for the time being," she said gently.
Pulling her close, I held on to her tight, trying not to cry. What had I done.... what had I done.
Zig Zag arrived at the studio shortly before one in the afternoon. The studio was supposed to be closed today, but Sheila had called and asked her to do her a favor and let her in. She needed to get something from the studio. Sheila had also asked Zig Zag to make sure and bring her digital camera.
Curious about what was going on, Zig Zag let herself into the building. Locking the door behind her, she quickly proceeded around the corner to the alarm panel and disarmed the system. Walking back out into the lobby, she sat down on the couch and got comfortable.
Smiling, she remembered seeing Logan's noon report. Ever since meeting him at the memorial and seeing his tribute to Bjorn, she had lightened up her opinion of him. Sure the media was still full of idiots and jerks, out for nothing more than ratings, but once in a great while there was a jewel out there. Mind you, he was cracked and flawed, but he was a hell of a lot better than the other jerks. So far he had been the only one to break the fact that the DA was under suspicion for conspiracy to commit murder. Going public with reports from his "informants" that the police had found incriminating evidence showing that he was linked with the kidnappers who had killed Bjorn.
Of course, that didn't stop him from raking her and everyone else over the coals that was involved in the story. The only thing that kept her from tuning out was the fact that he gave everyone the same treatment. That was a lot better than she got elsewhere. Chuckling, she decided to let Arden live for inviting the guy to Bjorn's memorial.
Hearing a clink on the glass door, Zig Zag looked up to see Arden and Sheila standing there. Letting them in, she gave each a hug. "What's up Kiddo's?" she asked. Giving her a wink, Sheila said nothing. As Zig Zag glanced at Arden, she saw him shrug. Obviously Sheila wanted to be mysterious.
Leading the group to one of the still photo stages, Sheila whispered something to Arden. Her curiosity piqued, Zig Zag laughed. "Don't tell me the boy finally decided to do some camera work?" she asked. His head snapped around so fast, the sunglasses fell off. Glaring at both Sheila and Zig Zag as they laughed at his distress, he picked up the glasses. "Not the kind you wanna take." He growled.
Opening the bag he had brought, Zig Zag watched as Arden withdrew several pieces of colorful silk clothing. Changing into them, she could see that they were of oriental design, with those funny symbols they used for writing over there. Tying on a headband, he completed the basics. Withdrawing the three swords that Tigger had given him, he inserted them in between the overlapping silk belt he had wrapped around the outfit to hold it closed. Giving one last adjustment to their placement, he stood, arms at his hips, legs spread. "So, how do I look?" he asked.
Giving a laugh, Zig Zag brought up her camera and snapped a picture, "Like a samurai warrior, only I don't think they had sunglasses back then." Nodding, he removed the glasses and tossed them in the bag. "If anyone sees these pictures, tell them I pissed you off and you edited the eyes," he instructed her.
As Sheila came over and joined him, Zig Zag saw that she was dressed also in a Japanese outfit. Taking hold of her long head fur, Arden began working it into an elaborate bun on the top of her head. Using several long needles as hairpins, he locked the fur into an immobile mass on the top of Sheila's head. Standing side by side, Zig Zag got the definite impression that she was supposed to be playing the part of a Geisha girl. Snapping another picture she nodded, "Very nice. But did you have to drag me down here on my day off?"
Shrugging, Sheila looked a bit sheepish. "I'm sorry Zig Zag, but I realized that I didn't have any pictures of Arden other than the ones you took of us tickle fighting. I really appreciate you doing this for us without an audience," Sheila said. Nodding, Zig Zag could understand. For the next hour or so, she took pictures of Sheila and Arden, posing for posterity.
After the shoot, Sheila asked Zig Zag to sit with them. "Zig's, I hate to have to have to tell you this... but I'm going to be leaving the studio." Sheila announced. Stunned, Zig Zag shot Arden a questioning look. Raising his hands, he shook his head. He had nothing to do with it. Turning back to Sheila, she looked for an answer. She started to ask why, but changed her mind, realizing the reason.
"How long do you think you'll be away?" Zig Zag asked. "I don't know," Sheila answered quietly, "There are too many ghosts here for me. It's too painful right now." Giving a knowing nod, Zig Zag fought back some tears, "What will you do with yourself?" she asked. Shrugging, Sheila looked at Arden, "Arden's talked so much about how beautiful Japan and Australia are. I was thinking I'd go 'walkabout' as he puts it. Just explore for the sake of doing it." Standing, Sheila gave Zig Zag a quick hug. "I'm going to clean out my locker now," she said, picking up her bag.
Crossing her arms, Zig Zag gave Arden a hard look. Raising his hands defensively again, he answered her charge, "Don't look at me. I tried to talk her out of it." Rubbing his eyes with a paw, he commented, "I've screwed up everything I've touched since I got here."
Shaking his head, Arden reached over for the bag he brought. Reaching in, he took out the equipment harness. In the holster was the Desert Eagle. "I lost the pistols that James loaned us. Please give this to him and ask if he'll accept it in way of payment," Arden asked. Taking the harness in one finger, Zig Zag held it like it was a dirty sock, avoiding unnecessary contact. "OK. I'll give it to him. You don't think you need it anymore?" she asked. Shaking his head, he stood up with the bag. "With the stuff that I gave Logan last night along with the evidence Tigger gave Jones, I think the DA's out of our fur for now." I said for an explanation.
Watching him walk out the room, Zig Zag again looked at the gun. "Man, I thought that revolver James had was a cannon." She said to herself. Standing up, she headed for her office. Time to lock this monster in the safe and go check up on Sheila.
Once she had stored the weapon, Zig Zag proceeded to the locker room. Walking in, she saw Arden sitting on the bench by Sheila's locker. She was handing him stuff to put in bag, occasionally explaining what it was. As she approached the pair, she heard Arden let out a loud bark of laughter.
Sitting on the opposite side of Sheila, she looked to see her holding a box. On the cover was a label "Betty Trucker's Road Kill Helper." Laughing hard, Arden told Sheila he had one almost exactly like it in his old life. Giving a little laugh, Sheila recounted the story about where Bjorn had bought it for her at a truck stop.
As Sheila turned it over, Zig Zag heard something rattling around in side. Holding very still Sheila put her head down and spoke softly, "Arden, I owe you an apology." Zig Zag saw a look of confusion on his face. "Whatever for love?" he asked, rubbing his paw on her back. Sniffing quietly, Sheila wiped her muzzle. "I've been very selfish of you. I've kept you here when you had important work to do."
Opening the top of the box, Sheila dumped the contents into her hand. Looking, Zig Zag could see it was the silver medallion that Arden had described. Hearing a gasp, she saw Arden's eyes get wide. Turning the amulet over in her hands, Sheila traced the outside of the face with a claw. "I've had this since the night that we hit you with the car." She explained.
Looking at Arden, Zig Zag saw him shoot her a hard look. Raising her hands in defense, it was Zig Zag's turn to plead innocence. "When you first saw me in the ditch," Sheila explained, "you reached up with your left hand and placed it in mine. I've kept it ever since." Letting out a small sob, she clenched the amulet tightly. "I didn't want to lose you. I'm sorry." As Sheila began crying again, Arden put his arms around her, holding her tight. Sheila shook her head in denial. "If I had given you the amulet," she sobbed, "Bjorn would be alive now! God... I just.... I just ..."
Reaching out to put a comforting hand on Sheila, Zig Zag was surprised to get a strong electrical zap that numbed her hand. Sheila didn't appear to even notice it. Rubbing her palm, Zig Zag looked with concern at the two. "Oh Arden," Sheila said, "I just wish there was some way we could bring Bjorn back."
"DONE!" a voice, out of the air, spoke. Shocked, Zig Zag saw red light shooting from Sheila's hand. "NO!" Arden screamed and tried to grab the amulet from her.
There was a loud clap of thunder, throwing Zig Zag away from the pair and against the wall. Stunned, she watched as they were engulfed in a pillar of flame, the stench of sulfur and brimstone filled the air. As she watched in horror, she saw them writhing in pain, their features becoming indistinct as the flames swirled around them, all to the sound of a thousand horrible voices laughing.
Crawling towards the pair, Zig Zag was momentarily blinded by a flash of light, and the clap of inrushing air, as the pair disappeared from the room leaving nothing but the stench and the echo of laughter.
"Oh my God!" she thought, "Arden was telling the truth. It had all been true! And now they were gone. Oh God! They can never come back!" Shaking, Zig Zag collapsed to the floor, crying, mourning for two more friends she would never see again.