Story (c) 2000 by Hikaru Katayamma/Keith Dickinson. All rights reserved. The character Sheila Vixen (c) Eric W Schwartz. All other characters are (c) Hikaru Katayamma.  This story contains adult situations and language. By reading it the viewer agrees not to hold this or any other person responsible for any content they may find objectionable. If you don't like it, don't read it.

Identity Crisis
Act II
Chapter 2

Who's your doggy? Who's your doggy?

  "Ummm, Arden?" Sheila said, getting my attention. Looking up, I wondered what was wrong. "What's up Sheila?" I asked. "Vick," she said, correcting me. "OK. What's up Vic?" I asked correctly. "Would you please stop dragging your tail? You're not a sopwith camel you know," she pointed out to me.

  Thinking about it for a second, I realized I clamped down on my tail when I got nervous. Being a stumpy bear, that wasn't a problem, but being a vixen, it wouldn't do. Forcing myself to relax, I lifted the tail up and waved it around as high as I could, using it as a counterpoise to my stride. Beside me I heard Sheila chuckle. "Now you're getting the idea," he said, "Just rock your hips a little and you'll have them drooling in no time."

  Chuckling, I adjusted my stride. I'd practically been marching. Walking like this in my old body would have gotten me shot. As a vixen, it worked. Watching Sheila I noticed he could use a little correction. As we walked towards town we occasionally critiqued each other's walks, trying to cover all the bases.

  As we got to within a hundred yards or so, folks started taking notice of us, a few pointing in our direction. "Showtime," I said to Sheila. Looking over I saw his hand resting on the hilt of the Katana. "Um, Vic?" I said, getting his attention. "If you want to hold onto something, use the scabbard. Holding onto the hilt is an aggressive posture. We're just two, friendly strangers strolling into town." Watching him slide his hand back to where the scabbard and belt met, I nodded. We didn't need anyone getting the wrong idea. Not yet anyway.

  Walking past the first outer buildings, we stayed in the road, away from the storefronts. Looking around, I saw that the buildings were good quality wood construction based on planked wood. The glass appeared to be of good quality too, though it showed ripples from being hand manufactured. With the boardwalks and awnings in front of the buildings, it reminded me of something almost out of the old west.

  Everywhere I looked, folks were watching us. Some had stopped while others continued walking. All, though, were paying attention to us. We walked along for about ten or fifteen minutes, perusing the town and its occupants. Stopping us, Sheila looked around. "We are definitely the center of attention," he observed. Nodding, I agreed. "First things first. We need to get money," I suggested. "Sure, but how?" he asked. Spotting the frontage for a dress shop, I gave a smile. "I think I see our income now," I said, leading Sheila over.

  Looking in the window, we saw several fancy ballroom dresses and gowns on display. Giving Sheila a feral smile, I did my best imitation of her getting ready to shop. "What's the most expensive thing in there Vic?" I asked. Sheila was taken back for a second. "I'd say it's the wedding gown in the center of the display," he answered. "Great," I agreed, "That will give is a yardstick on the values here. Let's see just how much this kimono's worth!"

  As I started to turn, he grabbed my arm. "Hey! We can't sell that! My deposit!" he pleaded. Giving a sigh, I turned and looked back at him. "Look, we don't have a choice. Think of it this way. If you ever do get back, you've got the money to cover it. If you don't get back, then the money's gone either way. As for the here and now, this thing is going to pay for some food and lodging. If we're lucky, it will get us some good equipment for our travels," I said, explaining the facts to him. I could see him agonizing over the money. He'd put close to five hundred dollars down in the deposit for both outfits and the accessories. Finally accepting defeat, Sheila nodded and followed me into the store.

  Once inside, I un-tucked the kimono from the belt and brushed it out. Sheila helped get the backside where I couldn't reach. Just as I was finishing brushing off the hem of the kimono, I felt Sheila goose me under the tail. He didn't hit the sweet spot, but it sure got my attention. Straightening up, I let out a bit of a yelp and scooted forwards a good foot. Turning around I shot Sheila a hard look, but she just laughed. Thinking back to the times I had done it to him, I had to laugh too.

  Hearing someone clear their throat behind me, I turned to see three ladies standing. Two were cowering behind the one that was clearing her throat. All three looked nervous.

  "Can I help you.... Miss?" the lead one said. Nodding I gave her a polite smile. "Yes, we were looking at your wonderful dresses. Might we inquire about some of them?" I asked as femininely as possible. Realizing I wasn't there to eat any of them, the leader smiled. "Well I think we can certainly help you out. My name is Junip and these are my sisters Elista and Coranine. You'll have to excuse them, they were just getting back to work," she explained, shooing them away.

  "Actually," said Sheila, "We were curious about that wedding gown in the front center. It looks like an amazing piece of work. I assume it was a commission?" Raising an eyebrow at Sheila, Junip (pronounced Yew-nip) smiled. "Indeed. It was commissioned by the Duchess for her daughter's wedding two years ago. It took us almost a year to craft and is unique in its design," she said, leading us over to the gown. As Junip described all the details, I listened to her and Sheila as they discussed the gown, mentally wanting to smack him.

  ".....Of course," Junip continued, "everything on the gown is original, worn at the wedding with, of course, the exception of the jewelry. This is simply a copy of the jewels we had commissioned as an exact replica of what she wore. The Duchess was very generous in granting us a permanent loan of the dress as well as a conservation spell from the court sorcerer to protect it." Nodding, I gave the appearance of being impressed, though I had zoned out through much of the conversation. "And just how much did the Duchess pay for the gown if I might ask?" I queried. Smiling, Junip waved off the question. "It's common knowledge. The Duke paid over one thousand gold Imperials for the construction, not counting the jewelry of course. It's the pride of our township and the greatest work we've ever produced."

  Hearing the price, I let out a low whistle. This thing had probably cost more than the entire town made in a year, easily. We hadn't checked out a yardstick, we had looked at a mile marker. Looking at Sheila, I could see he felt the same way. Taking a last look at the gown, we allowed Junip to show us the other gowns in the store. The average price ranged from as low as two or three gold Imperials up to one hundred and fifty or sixty. The upper end gowns were on a par with the kimono I wore but were of a lesser material. Nothing in the store even resembled silk or had its qualities.

  Ending the tour, Junip asked if we saw anything we liked. She had some simple dresses that I thought would work if modified for general getting around stuff. I sure as heck didn't want a gown. If Sheila even suggested it, I'd deck him.

  Smiling, I held my arm out to show off the Kimono. "Tell me, how much do you think something like this would be worth?" I asked. Confusion flittered across her face for a second. Hesitantly she reached out to touch the material, unsure if I was going to object. Simply standing there with what I hoped was a pleasant smile, I allowed her to look at the workmanship.

  "This fabric is amazing. I've never felt anything like it. It feels so light and soft. Is it very warm?" she asked. Shaking my head, I shrugged. "Not to me it isn't. It breathes very well but blocks the wind and so is good to wear when warm or cold. My people don't feel the cold as easily as you do so I can't say how it would feel for you," I answered. Nodding, she looked at the embroidery. "Is there any way I can take a look at this embroidery close up?" she asked. "Certainly," I answered. "Is there somewhere...." Looking around for the equivalent of a dressing room, I saw her realize what I was looking for.

  Leading me around to the back she showed me a classic dressing screen. Seeing the only other people in the room where her sisters, I didn't bother with it. It's not like I was naked underneath. I was wearing a protective undergarment. I just didn't want to draw any more attention from the outside. I had seen a few boys peeking in through the front of the window. Tempted to give them a show, I had decided not to.

  Taking out the Wakazashi and removing the sling, I handed them to Sheila. Removing the belt, I began to unwrap the obis. Handing it to Junip, I saw her eyes go wide as she felt the material. Taking it over to her sisters, she showed it to them. All three were most excited by the fabric. Removing the outer coat of the kimono, I still wore the white tabard like shirt that the store had recommended to help protect the silk from the oils in my fur. It reminded me of a child's nightgown when the saleswoman first showed it to me as it only came down to the knees.

  Folding the kimono, I almost didn't want to hand it over. It was real silk, painted using the traditional Yuuzen method. It was a hand crafted work of art that was worth a small fortune. Hopefully it would be worth it here too. Holding the kimono between both paws, I held them out, bowing Japanese style to Junip, allowing her to take the gown.

  Watching them examine the gown, they reminded me of a bunch of vultures, picking over a carcass. I felt Sheila's hand on my shoulder as he gave me a little squeeze. Hugging my bruised arm to my chest, I waited for their decision. After a few minutes, they came to a consensus.

  All three approached us with the gown. Junip spoke again, "We understand how valuable this gown is and wish we could afford to offer you what it's worth, but I'm afraid we don't have that kind of money." She held the gown out for me to take. I considered it for a second than made a decision. "How about this. How about if you give us a down payment on the gown, then when you sell it, you pay us the remainder of its value. You would, of course, keep a generous percentage for your efforts," I suggested.

  The trio huddled together and whispered excitedly. Giggling they broke up. The smile on Junip's face told me she was up to something. "We're willing to front you one hundred gold Imperials on one condition," she said. Waiting for the hammer to drop, I was a little annoyed with their glee. "We want his outfit too. They're obviously a matching pair," she said, leaning close to give us a conspiratorial whisper. "I think we could sell these to the Duke and Duchess for the upcoming Imperial ball." Standing back she had a very wide grin on her face.

  Looking up at Sheila, I gave him a "well?" look. Scrunching his face up, Sheila was torn with indecision. "We think we could easily get a thousand Imperials for the two outfits combined. You are both almost a perfect match for their size," Coranine contributed. Hearing this, Sheila's eyes snapped open. Getting an almost feral gleam in his eye, Sheila nodded. "I presume you can provide us with some suitable garments and the cash this evening?" he asked. Smiling at her victory, Junip's head bobbed up and down. "Easily. Our father owns the store next door. He can fit you with anything you should desire to wear."

  Finalizing our deal, Junip rushed off to the bank to get the cash for us. Meanwhile her sisters quickly made alterations to two peasant dresses and undergarments to allow for my tail. They were both entranced with it. Elista commented that she would love to have my body, especially the tail. I heard Sheila mumble something about her not being the only one and gave him a little kick.

  After making a few alterations to the dresses, I was satisfied. It was odd wearing something specifically designed with breasts in mind. Then again, so was having them, especially when they're jumbo sized.

  Dressed in local attire, I followed Sheila and Elista next door. The store was a marvel of stuff. It had everything from basic utilitarian farm clothing to some high priced looking frippery. Watching Sheila's reaction when he measured his inseam was priceless. What a lousy time not to have a Polaroid camera.

  Getting a long strip of cloth from the girls, I used it as a sash to wrap around the dress. Tucking the Wakazashi back into it, I felt much better. I had been tempted to ask them to make me up a replacement sling for my arm, but I changed my mind. I could tell it was pretty badly bruised but wasn't broken. I'd just have to take it easy and not push it.

  Finished dressing, Sheila came out from behind the dressing curtain wearing a good quality utilitarian outfit. Their father had sent his apprentice out to get some boots for Sheila, which were black and came up to mid-calf. The pants were made of a fairly loose fitting material that resembled denim. His shirt was a simple tabard with a split "V" for the neck, and short sleeves. Both pants and shirt were of a neutral brown color and wouldn't show the dirt and grime of travel. Topping it off with a tri-cornered hat, he almost looked like something from colonial times.

  Giving a polite golf clap, I took another length of cloth and helped him to wrap it around over his belt and tie it off. Showing Sheila how to tuck the swords between the layers so they would hold their position, I then stepped back and took a look at the work. Walking around him to examine the back, I was impressed with the quality of the workmanship. "Nice butt too," I said to myself.

  Completing the circuit, I walked away from the group and towards the window. "Nice butt?" I asked myself. What the hell was I thinking? Leaning against the front wall, I looked out the window at the darkening sky, watching people as they passed by.

  "What's wrong?" I heard Sheila ask, placing his hand on my shoulder. Looking up at him, I laid back my ears. "You know, you have a cute butt?" I asked. Turning around he tried to get a good look at his butt. Turning back, he said, "I guess I'll have to take your word for it until I get to a mirror." I just stared at him. After a few seconds the smile faded to curiosity, and then realization. Nodding, he gave me a little shrug. "You're a vixen now babe. Learn to live with it," he said lightly.

  Turning back to the venders we had abruptly abandoned, Sheila completed the transaction. Returning to me, he gave me half the cash in a small pouch that hung on a long string. Hooking it over my head, I tucked it inside the blouse of my outfit. If something happened Sheila's portion of the money, then we'd have mine for a backup.

  Holding the door open for me, Sheila waited for me to walk through. "Ohhhh," I cooed, "A gentleman too," I teased. "I had a good example," he answered. Walking out into the open air, I stopped to look at the sunset reflecting off the clouds. It's amazing how the simple things can catch your attention. After a few seconds I felt Sheila's hand on my shoulder as he looked, watching it too.

  "Ohhhh... The big man and his pet doggy," I heard someone off to the side say. Looking over, I glared at three scrawny young men. They had troublemakers spray-painted all over them. The one in the middle was whistling at me. "Here poochy, here girl. Come on, doggy," he said taunting me. Judging the distance between us, I pushed off with my left leg, leaping towards him sideways while drawing the Wakazashi. His eyes flew wide open in terror as I swung the sword at his neck. Landing on my right foot, I froze the blade as it was about to hit his neck.

  Pressing it lightly onto the skin, I was careful not to slide it. Japanese swords cut best while being drawn along the target, slicing. Putting my muzzle in his face, I growled. "What did you call me?" I demanded. I could smell his fear. The shock of what I had done was clear on his friend's faces as they watched in horror what I was doing to their friend.

  "I asked you a question. What did you call me?" I demanded again. Whimpering, he began to beg, "Please, I didn't mean anything by it. I'm sorry. Please don't kill me..." Growling I pressed a little harder on his throat. "What did you call me?" I yelled. About that time I became aware of the smell of urine. It coincided with the most pathetic look I'd seen on anyone's face in years. "You listen to me carefully. If I ever hear you or your friends referring to me as a dog again, I'll use your balls for kibble. Do I make myself clear?" I asked. Jerking his head up and down franticly the lead punk stammered that he did. Looking at his friends, they were all agreeing, afraid that they would be next.

  I felt Sheila put his hand on my shoulder. "That's enough," he said. Letting my face relax, I stepped back from the punk, blade still resting on crook of his shoulder and neck. "As you wish, my lord," I said formally. Flicking the sward upwards, I drew the back along the side of his cheek, causing him to fall to the ground, whimpering and pleading for mercy. Snapping the sword vertical, I then slapped it against the top of my left paw as it sat poised over the end of the scabbard. Drawing the blade along until the tip was between my thumb and finger, I guided it into the hold without looking. Ensuring my thumb wasn't pressing the edge of the blade I snapped the hilt home, never taking my eyes off the punk. Turning, I slapped him in the face with my tail, and walked casually away.

  Catching up to me, Sheila leaned close. "Don't you think you over did it a little back there?" he asked. Trying not to smile I nodded. "Of course. That's exactly why I did it, too." Glancing up, I saw confusing on his face. "Think about it. Those punks are going to spread word all over town that I'm no pushover. Nobody's going to make dog jokes, or tease me. If anyone refers to me it's going to be as 'That psychotic bitch with the sword,' and even that will be behind my back, never to my face. That's exactly how I want it. They'll also spread word that you're my lord. That will give you a reputation by association," I explained, detailing out my reasons.

  "Well, you scared me back there. I thought you were really going to kill him," Sheila said with a worried voice. Chuckling, I gave him a smile. "I was tempted, but only for a second. From here on you need to treat me as a vassal in public. I'm your combination of guard and servant. Just don't get too carried away with it," I said, setting the scene. Chuckling, Sheila thought about what I just him. I could tell he was getting ideas.

  Getting to the inn, we were greeted by a pleasantly plump old man. He informed us that there was a large room available for us. Negotiating the rate, we got him to agree to a weeks stay for two gold Imperials, meals included. Satisfied with the deal, we paid him and allowed him to show us to the room. It really wasn't a bad place. We were up on the third floor.

  The room was quite spacey and occupied one quarter of the floor. The innkeeper informed us that these rooms were normally reserved for royalty. Junip had informed him that we were going to be coming by and made sure he gave us the best room in the house. Thanking him, we settled in. Sheila hung up the two extra dresses that the women had given me in the wardrobe and placed his outfits in the dresser. Placing our swords on the tables by the bed, we both laid back and relaxed on top of the covers.

  Relaxing, I tried something I'd seen Sheila do many a time. Bending my knees, I took the end of my tail and rolled it back and forth across the soles of my feet. Giggling, I enjoyed the feel of the fur as it brushed the bottoms of my feet. It was oddly soothing. "What's so funny?" Sheila asked, leaning over and propping himself up on his arm. "I could never figure out why you were doing this," I stated dreamily. Confused, Sheila looked me over and spotted the tail. "Oh," she said, "Feels pretty good eh?" Relaxing, I tried to let the tension flow out of me. "Oh yah," I sighed, "Just what the doctor ordered."

  I was mildly surprised to feel Sheila's hand as she trailed it down along the edge of the front of the dress, caressing my breast. Opening my eyes, I looked over at him and saw he was smiling. "If you think that feels good," he stated, "You don't know the half of it." Taking his hand, I kissed it lightly and rubbed my muzzle against it. "Not yet, hon. I'm not ready for that yet," I said quietly.

  Sheila let out a groan and rolled back over onto his back. I could see he had gotten himself a little worked up. I fought the urge, but couldn't stop myself from laughing. Giving me a sideways look, Sheila asked, "What's so funny now?" The irony was just perfect. "You know, I remember a certain vixen leaving me in a similar position on our first night together," I explained. "And that was after she had toyed with me for over an hour." Rolling over, I ran my hand across his chest. "Payback's a bitch baby, and I'm just the bitch, too," I said with glee.

  Putting his hands over his face, Sheila let out a moan. "I suppose I deserve that," he said, letting his hands fall to his side. Rolling over partially on top of him, I rubbed my knee lightly over his crotch. "You know what lover boy?" I asked in a low, husky bedroom voice. A smile quickly spread over Sheila's face as his anticipation....and other assets, grew. "No, what?" he asked. I leaned real close, pinning his arms over his head, lightly nibbling his ear and whispered, "I think I smell dinner ready."

  Giving Sheila a soft kiss, I snapped my body over and rolled off the bed before what I said sank in. Realizing what I had done, Sheila let out an inarticulate cry of frustration and threw a pillow at me. Laughing I picked up my Wakazashi and strolled for the door, waving my tail like a banner behind me. Stopping at the door, I turned to blow Sheila a kiss.

  Opening the door, I headed downstairs. I don't know what the old boy was cooking up, but it smelled good.

Chapter 3