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 3

Table for a party of one please?

  Pausing at the top of the stairs, I checked to make sure nobody was watching. Reaching into the pouch, I removed a couple coins and slipped them into a pocket on the dress. Tucking the bag back safely between my breasts, I was reminded of the presence of the amulet. Reaching in, I touched it, noticing that it was at room temperature. I hope that transporting the two of us didn't some how break or damage the talisman's magic.

  Letting out a bit of a sigh, I headed down the stairs. The stairs terminated in the commons room. Chairs and tables filled the area, with a huge fireplace against one wall, extending almost ten feet in length. Behind the stairs was a door that led to a kitchen area. This was the source of the smell. Turning left at the bottom of the stairs, I saw another open area with a bar, more tables and another fireplace. There was also a small stage with a stool on it, probably for traveling bards or minstrels.

  Walking over to the bar, I saw a younger man behind the counter washing glasses. He bore a striking resemblance to the old man that had rented us the room, so I presumed he was his grandson. Taking a stool at the end of the bar, I looked around at the dozen or so patrons in the room. All were looking at me, and the general conversation had vanished.

  Walking over to me, the barkeeper was toweling off his hands. "What can I do for you tonight, miss?" he asked with a small smile. I liked him. He wasn't presumptuous and didn't fear me. "Mind if I run a tab?" I asked. Shaking his head, he looked genuinely sorry. "I'm afraid we're not allowed to run tabs for your folk, miss," he answered. Taking out a gold Imperial, I tossed it up on the counter. "Tell you what, get me a mug of your best ale. Once you've done that," I said, raising my voice, "go ahead and give everyone else a round of whatever they're drinking."

  That got a round of cheers from a majority of the house. As always, there was one dissenter. "I don't care about the rest of you, but I'm not going to drink with no bitch!" a man's voice declared to the room. The barkeep just shook his head. "We know that, Brookman! That's why you drink here and not at home with your wife!" I heard someone shout back, igniting a round of laughter.

  Looking over to the crowd, I could clearly see the angry man in the corner, scowling at me. Wandering towards the bar, I saw a rugged looking man carrying a stein. He was about even with my height, sandy blond hair, light brown eyes and a full mustache that rippled as he laughed. Wearing a worn and beaten leather vest, light tan shirt and dark pants, he looked like a photographer in the field, only without his cameras. Sitting down at the bar just around the corner from me, he sat his drink on the counter. Sticking his hand out, he introduced himself, "Hi, I'm Mitch."

  His voice was the one taunting my attacker. Smiling, I put my paw out and shook his hand. "I'm Arden," I informed him, "Thanks for sticking up for me." Lifting up his stein, he saluted me. "Not a problem, Arden. I'm not too picky about who I drink with," he said. Leaning close he spoke low. "Especially when they're as cute as you," he said giving a wink. Chuckling I took a drink of my ale. The guy was kind of cute.

  Putting my drink down, I took a deep breath. OK, he was cute. I can live with that assessment. As long as I didn't decide he had a nice butt, I suppose I could handle the odds and ends that my subconscious seemed desperate to shove out in the foreground.

  Seeing my expression change, Mitch reached over and touched my paw. "Hey, what's wrong?" he asked. Looking down at my paw, I looked up at him without moving my head. Pulling his hand back, he held his hands up in apology. Shaking my head I looked up at him. "Just a long way from home. It's been a long time since I sat in a pub like this and enjoyed a drink with my friends," I explained. Nodding, Mitch stared down into his stein. "I guess I can see how that would be. You're home has got to be a heck of a long ways off. I've never even heard of your people," he said solemnly. Smiling, I took another drink. "Hey! I didn't come down here to get depressed. I came down here to enjoy myself and get some food," I declared, brushing away the moment.

  Hearing me mention food, the barkeep came over. "Would you like to eat at the bar or in the commons, miss?" he asked. Glancing at Mitch, I saw him shrug. Smiling at the barkeep, I pointed to the space in front of me. "This will be just fine. Thank you."

  About the time I finished off my ale, a young girl came out into the room with a huge waiting platter loaded with plates. Coming over to the bar, she put a large plate in front of each of us. On the plate I saw a deep bowl of beef stew, half a small loaf of bread and a small round object that looked like a deep fried cup-coaster that was about half an inch thick.

  Settling the plate in front of myself, I realized that I now had yet another problem. It was going to have to be careful eating if I didn't want to drip on my dress. As a man I didn't have this problem, just lean forward a little over the stew and it shouldn't get on me. With these breasts I'd have to take great pains not to slop. Being a female was starting to be a real pain in the tail.

  Taking the spoon, I dipped into the stew and took a taste. Smiling, I felt my tail swishing as I enjoyed the flavor. It was wonderful stew. The beef was good and tender. Although there were vegetables, it wasn't overloaded with any one vegetable, like potatoes or corn. It was well spiced without being overpowering. All in all I was pleased.

  Watching Mitch take a bite of the deep fried, coaster-sized object on his plate, I took that as a hint and tried mine. I was surprised by the strong flavor of hazel nuts, honey and barley. It wasn't fried, but baked to a crisp yet still quite moist inside. Smiling, I placed it back on the plate. It would be good as a desert.

  When we were about half way through our meal, I saw Sheila standing in the door, looking around. Waving my mug, I got his attention. Coming over to us, he sat down at the stool besides me and looked at the food. "Smells good," he commented. "I believe I would enjoy a plate of that and some ale myself." I was about to tell him to fetch it for himself when I remembered my roll. "As you wish my lord," I said, bowing to him. Walking around the corner of the bar, I let my tail rub the base of Mitch's spine just above his belt, chuckling as he straightened up. Being a tease was fun.

  Reaching the kitchen, I spoke with the young girl who was waiting on folk and got a plate for Sheila. Returning with it, I caught the attention of the barkeep and ordered another ale. Returning to my chair, I set the platter down. "Is there anything else you require, my lord?" I asked. I saw Sheila consider asking something, but the look in my eye put an end to that. "No, there isn't. Thank you Arden," Sheila said magnanimously. Bowing to him, I turned and sat back down on the barstool.

  Waving his spoon between Sheila and me, Mitch a got a curious look. "Just what's the deal with you two?" he asked. Looking at Sheila, I saw him ignoring the exchange. "He is my liege lord. I have sworn my life in his duty," I informed Mitch. Spreading his hands, Mitch asked, "And just what kinds of duties would those be?" Giving a little shrug, I sipped my ale. "Anything he requires of me," I replied simply. Glancing between Sheila and myself, he smiled, "Anything?" "Anything," I answered, "I am all things to him, bodyguard, companion, advisor, philosopher, healer," giving a sly grin, "and nanny. Any service that he needs performed, I am capable and empowered to do," I explained.

  Getting a sly smile, Mitch looked at Sheila again. "When you say you're his companion, are we know...companion?" he asked, too embarrassed to say it. Looking at Sheila, I saw that he was now looking at me, eyebrow raised, smiling. Turning back to Mitch, I shook my head. "Despite his best efforts, that has not yet come to pass," I informed Mitch. "So you're available?" Mitch asked. Looking at Sheila again, I saw that the smile was gone from his face. "No," I said, shaking my head, still looking at Sheila, "I'm spoken for."

  Turning back to my stew, I took another bite, letting the swirl of flavors echo the emotions floating around in my heart. Looking over at Mitch I smiled a little. From the perspective of a vixen he'd be a fun romp, but I was still in love with Sheila. If I were going to bed any man, he would have the honors, but that wasn't going to happen soon.

  Losing my appetite, I shoved the plate away and picked up the ale. Downing the trailing third of the mug, I waved the barkeep over for a refill. Picking up the refreshed mug, I walked back over into the commons. Spotting a table in the corner that wasn't occupied, I sat on the chair. Tilting it back, I propped my feet up on the table while wrapping my dress around and between my legs so it wouldn't hang open. Sipping my drink, I watched the folks eat their dinner. They still openly stared at me, discussing me in a low voice with the people at their table.

  About half way through my drink, I noticed a small kid crawling between the tables. He looked to be about seven or eight years old. Crawling out from under my table, he stood up a few feet from me and looked at me in awe. "Wow! Can you really talk?" he asked. Chucking, I nodded my head. "Yes, I can talk," I said "I'm Arden. What's you're name?" I asked as an introduction. Standing up a little straighter he thumped his chest. "I'm Tommy, but all my friends call me Fish," he announced with pride. "Fish?" I asked, "Why Fish?" Smiling, he took a step forward, "Because I'm the best swimmer in town. Everyone says that I swim like a fish, so that's what they call me---Fish," he explained.

  Laughing, I took another drink and glanced around. Folks had stopped paying much attention to me. "Hey lady, can I pet your tail?" he asked, watching it as it wagged slowly behind me. Slipping my feet off the table, I turned my knees away from him. Twitching the muscles I caused my tail to do a little dance in front of him, finally coming to rest in his hands. Stroking it, he his face almost split in two from the smile. "Wow! That's neat. You got real soft fur too," he noted. "Thank you," I said, pleased at the compliment. Twitching my tail away, I brushed it across his face before turning around so I faced him.

  Resting my elbows on my knees, I took another sip of my drink. "You must come from a long way off," he said in the way of an observation. Nodding, I agreed. "Yep, you could walk for a very long time and not reach my home," I said wistfully. "Oh yah? I got a cousin in the Imperial City. That's almost two weeks away on horseback!" he declared defiantly. Shaking my head, I looked at him sadly. "You could ride a horse for years and not reach my home," I said.

  Just as he was about to ask another question, I saw a short harried woman come running over. "Thomas Livingston Brant! What did I tell you?" she said, scolding the boy. Picking him up, she turned away without even acknowledging me. "I told you not to go near that thing. You have no idea where it's been. It could have bit you, then you'd have rabies..." Laying back my ears, I didn't listen to the rest of her tirade.

  Standing I returned to the bar. Sheila and Mitch were happily chatting. Getting the bartender's attention I got the local equivalent of a bottle of hooch and headed for my room. Hearing him call out, I paused. He wanted to know about my change. I told him to keep it.

  Walking up the stairs, I saw Tommy...Fish to his friends...wave to me. Giving a little swish of my tail, I used it to wave back. Reaching the door to the room, I unlocked it and went in. Kicking the door shut I wandered over to the large couch and plopped down wincing as I did. Rolling off, I rubbed the base of my back where I had pulled my tail. Angry for forgetting it, I tried getting on the couch again, this time making sure I had it safely tucked between my legs.

  Draining the remainder of the ale, I pulled the cork out of the bottle with my teeth and spit it out on the floor. Pouring the contents into the mug, I dumped about an eighth of the bottle. Setting the bottle on the floor, I leaned back and took a drink. Swallowing, I gagged for a second on the aftertaste of the drink. Gasping for breath, I coughed trying to get some air. I tipped the bastard a weeks worth of wages and he gave me this crap? And to think I actually thought he liked me.

  Feeling the warmth spreading outwards from my stomach, I took another drink, this time ready for it. Thinking about Mitch, I realized that he was just another male, interested in a piece of exotic tail and a pair of gorgeous hooters. He had no more respect for me than any of them did. Hs little innuendos about Sheila and myself were just his way of finding out if I was available.

  Noticing that my mug was empty, I poured some more alcohol from the bottle, now emptying it to the half way mark. Setting it back on the floor, I was very careful not to tip it over.

  Now where was I? Oh yah, no respect. The women at the tailor shop didn't give me any. They just wanted our clothes. Clothes that Sheila had paid good money for too. And how about those punks outside? I definitely didn't get any respect from them. Absolutely none. I had really enjoyed it when that boy had pissed his pants. Now THAT was the highlight of the day!

  Saluting my victory over evil, I realized that the mug was once again empty. This was no way to celebrate a victory! Taking the bottle, I upended it into the container and drained the contents. Holding up the empty bottle, I gave it a regal look. "You gave your all soldier," I said shakily, "But now it's time for you to retire." Taking the bottle, I tossed it over in the corner where a large bucket sat. Watching it ricochet off the wall and into the container I gave myself a cheer. "And Arden scores from the three point line!" I announced to my imaginary audience.

  Only there was nobody there. I was alone in this god-forsaken world. Nobody was around for me. No, that's not true. Sheila was here. Thinking about him, I smiled. He had a cute ass. And so he should! It was my ass after all, and it was cute! Sheila loved me. But I wouldn't love her back. What kind of friend was I? He'd let me screw him when he was me...or her...whatever.

  Just as I was about to take another drink, I saw the door open. Hey! It was Sheila! "Hey babe! Glad you could join the party!" I declared, trying to sit up. I had a bit of trouble on the first try, but managed it on the second, and without spilling a drop I might add.

  Sheila glowered at me. "You're drunk," he said. Well duh! "Nope, I'm very drunk," I replied with a giggle. Coming over to me, Sheila reached down and took the mug from my paw. "Hey!" I objected, "That's my drink." Sniffing it, Sheila wrinkled his nose. Turning it upside down, he watched as a small drizzle of alcohol poured out.

  Tossing the mug on the table, Sheila lifted me up off the couch. "Time to get you to bed little lady," he said. "Ohhhh.. Bed. Sounds like fun to me," I said, rubbing my paw around in the general area of his crotch. "Damn it, Arden, "he said, grabbing my hand, "Knock it off."

  Giving him an indignant look, I let my ears wilt. "What's the matter with you, Mr. Grumpy?" I asked as he half dragged and half carried me into the bedroom. "You are smashed out of your gourd," he said, clearly annoyed. "I am? I didn't know I had a gourd to get smashed out of," I said, laughing at my little joke. Apparently Sheila didn't find it funny.

  "Stand up," Sheila ordered. Taking a look down, I saw I was vertical. "I am standing up," I stated in my defense. "On your own," Sheila complained, letting go of my arms. Suddenly without support, I felt my self falling and grabbed onto his shirt. Reaching up with one arm, I hooked it around his neck for a better grip. I felt him untying the straps that held my dress in place on the back. Thinking that was a good idea, I looked for the buttons on his shirt, but couldn't find any. That's when I remembered it was a pullover.

  Looking down, I realized that he wore a belt. I could help with that. Reaching down, I started to undo his belt. "Knock it off, Arden," Sheila said again, scolding me. Slapping my paw, he tucked the end of the belt back behind the loop. "I'm just trying to be helpful," I replied. "You want to be helpful, just stand there," he said, aggravated. How was a girl supposed to get laid if she wasn't allowed to help out? Oh yah, Sheila's a guy now. He probably wanted to drive. That's it. He probably just wanted me to be cute little passive puppy. I could handle that.

  I felt the dress slip off my shoulders as he finished with the ties in the back. Looking down, I could see I still had on the undershirt. That was no fun. Reaching down, I started trying to pull it up over my head. Sheila grabbed the top and helped me pull it off. Picking up the dress, he carried them over to the wardrobe and began to hang them up.

  Realizing something still wasn't right, I looked myself over. I still had on panties. That was going to definitely be a showstopper there. Pushing them down, I got them to about my knees when I felt them binding on my tail. I had forgotten the snap in the back. Too late to do anything about it now, I'd just have to force them. Pushing harder, I pulled up with my tail.

  Popping free of the elastic at last, my tail flew up and over my back, smacking me in the head. It also threw me off balance. Hands still firmly gripping the panties that were now at ankle level, I noticed the world was starting to turn. Landing heavily on my back, I let out an "Erf" as I had the air rushed out of me. Loosing grip on my panties, my legs flopped to the floor. Looking up I saw that Sheila was standing over me, doing that Robin Hood thing again. He didn't look that bad from down here either. He did look annoyed. What a grouch.

  Putting my arms, up, I felt him lift me up off the floor. Squealing in delight as I floated in the air, kicking off my panties and, landing on my tiptoes, did a little pirouette. Stopping my spin when I faced him, I had to reach out and grab him for balance. Reaching up, I tried to pull his face down for a kiss. Cute lips too. I would have nailed them if he hadn't stopped me. Holding me in a bear, he's not a bear, he's a human. I guess that would be a human hug? That's not right either. Whatever kind of hug he had me in, it wouldn't let me stretch my muzzle far enough up to kiss him. Not to be denied, I give his nose a quick lick as he carried me over to the bed.

  Reaching down, he pulled back the covers. "In you go," he said. "You coming in too, right?" I asked, smiling. Sheila just shook his head, "Not this time, love." Oh yah? We'll see about that. Lifting up my legs, I wrapped them around his groin, locking my feet together. With a twitch of my tail, I pulled it up between his legs, thumping his crotch with it. From the surprised look on his face I knew I had a Bingo! The growing pressure against my crotch as I rubbed against him told me I was right on target.

  His expression turned angry. Turning to the bed he shoved against my shoulders hard enough to break my grip on his neck, dropping my body on the bed. Reaching around behind him, he unlocked my legs. Fighting with me, he finally yelled, "Stop it!" Surprised and hurt at the tone in his voice, I stopped. "Now get in bed, damn it!" he said, teeth clenched, pointing to the covers.

  Sniffing, I felt the tears start. Climbing on the bed, I pulled the covers up over me, looking at him stand there and glower at me. "I knew it. You don't love me any more. You're just like everyone else here. I'm just a freak to be stared at," I said, crying. Turning away, I took the oversized pillow and wrapped myself around it,

  I felt Sheila sit on the bed behind me. He began stroking my back. "You're not a freak. You could never be that to me," he said quietly. "I still love you. You're the most important thing to me. I wouldn't trade you for the world."

  Rolling back over, I threw the covers off. "Then why won't you make love to me?" I demanded. Reaching over me, he took the covers and pulled them back. Leaning over me, he rubbed his fingers along the side of my muzzle. "It's because I love you that I won't. This isn't you, this is the alcohol," he said quietly, stroking my fur. "When I make love to you, I want it to be with Arden, not some drunk who's not going to remember it in the morning."

  Looking in those draconian eyes of his, I lost myself, floating on the clouds of alcohol flowing through my blood. His soft words caressing my hurt and anger away as I slowly fell asleep in the arms of my love.

Chapter 4