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 4

You only wish it were PMS.

  As my mind clawed its way out of the cloying black fog of sleep, I realized that I was dying. It felt like someone had pummeled my head while I was asleep. Rolling over onto my back, I let out a low moan as new waves of pain flowed through me. Putting my paws to my face, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, blinking at the light streaming in through the window. Throwing the covers off of me, I gently forced myself to sit up, regretting the move. My head was spinning, my mouth tasted like a tarmac and I thought I was going to puke.

  Acting on the rising sensation in my stomach, I looked franticly around for a container. Spotting the metal bucket used for "evening relief" in the corner, I dove for it, barely reaching my target before my stomach let loose. Pausing for a second, my stomach gave me enough time to take a breath, immediately reminding me that having a good sense of smell could be a curse as the odor struck me. A new wave of nausea had me hunched over the bucket as my stomach tried to empty content that were no longer there. Groping around the bucket on the floor, my hand found the lid that had been leaning beside it. Capping the container, I weakly crawled over by the bed and sat down, cursing as I pinched that damned tail again.

  Hearing the door to the room open, I looked over, secretly hoping it was some unknown assailant with murderous intent, coming to put me out of my misery. Unfortunately it was only Sheila. He was carrying a mug in one hand and a small vial with a thick looking liquid in it. Spotting me on the floor, he began to chuckle.

  "Oh yah, yuck it up," I said, regretting the screeching feeling my voice made in my head. Still chuckling, Sheila squatted down next to me and held out the vial. "Here. Drink this. It's supposed to help," he said. Taking the vial, I looked at the liquid. There was crap floating around in it. Giving Sheila a untrusting look, I watched him smile and nod. Pulling the cork out, I sniffed the contents and laid my ears back. The smell made me want to howl. "Go ahead," he urged me, "It's the local version of a hangover cure."

  Grabbing his shoulder, I pulled him close. "This had better not make me puke again," I growled as a warning. I wasn't in a good mood and misery wanted company. Steeling myself I dumped the contents of the vial in my mouth and swallowed, gagging on the taste. It felt like my mouth and stomach were on fire. Digging my claws into the floor and Sheila's shoulder, I arched my body, my muscles convulsing while the elixir penetrated my system. After a small eternity of this, the pain began to fade away and with it the muscle spasms.

  Putting my paws on my face, I ran them back through the fur on my head, pushing it out of my face. Taking a deep breath, I realized that my head didn't hurt nearly as much. Letting my arms drop, I saw Sheila holding the mug out in front of me. Taking it, I sniffed. It smelled like chicken soup. Taking a sip, I found that's exactly what it was. It was a bit salty for my taste, but did manage to find a welcome place in my stomach. Drinking about a third of the mug, I set it on the floor next to me.

  "What the heck was in that stuff?" I asked. Hearing Sheila laugh behind me, I started to worry again. "You don't want to know. I got it at the local apothecary. From the way the old geezer was talking, they believe in magic here," Sheila answered as he sat on the bed. Nodding, I could believe it. "Right now, I don't care about the content, but I will admit this. My headache's faded," I commented, feeling much better. Leaning my head back against the bed, I closed my eyes and relaxed.

  "Glad to hear it," Sheila said, getting off the bed. Behind me, I heard him in the wardrobe getting something. Feeling something land on my head, I ignored it until I got the smell. Snatching it off my head, I held it up before me, looking at it. They were my panties. Looking down, I realized for the first time that I was naked. Or at least as naked a vixen with fur can be.

  Clenching the panties in my fist, I recognized them for what they were. He'd take them as a trophy after the fact. I remembered working hard at getting drunk. I had been upset with what had happened downstairs. I was going to seek solace in the one place I could and he had obviously accepted. The fact that I was totally blitzed or even unconscious probably hadn't stopped him. Sheila had gotten his revenge for what I did earlier before dinner.

  Standing, I turned and picked up the dress. Slipping it over my head, I threaded my tail through the small opening in the back the sisters had made for me. Tying the cord at neck level, I then tied the slit in the back where I had threaded my tail. Wrapping the cloth strip around me as a belt, I threaded my Wakazashi through the layers. Ensuring I still had the amulet and bag of coins around my neck, I picked up the panties and headed for the door. Walking past Sheila as he reclined on the couch, I tossed the panties on his head. Ignoring his protest, I walked out the door and headed out to the street.

  Not pausing in front of the hotel, I turned back towards the edge of town and stalked purposely towards it. Inwardly, I felt a small bit of glee as I watched people scatter out of my way. Glancing in a window I caught my reflection. My fur was a mess, plastered against my head. Ears flat against my skull, I looked ready to kill something.

  Leaving the town, I followed the stream out towards the woods where we had come from. Reaching the edge of the forest, I followed the water for a few moments and then, finally, stopped. I had to take a piss and I needed to do it now! Finding a reasonable spot over in the trees, I hefted my dress out of the way and let it rip. Finishing up my business, I walked back to the stream and looked around. As I searched for a place to sit, I saw a rock in the sun that looked reasonably flat. Taking a seat, I folded my legs in front of me.

  Sitting there, I tried to center myself. The emotional overload that had been beating at my mind since we first arrived here was as strong as ever. It was trying to drive me insane. No, that wasn't right. It was trying to force me to pay attention, with a stick if necessary. I had trained myself to be able to control my emotions. As a man I had been able to turn them off and shove them in a corner indefinitely until I was ready to deal with them. Obviously I wasn't going to be able to do that any more.

  Going with the flow, I looked for the strongest emotion: Anger. I was a very angry boy...err...vixen. I was angry at the dragon for holding out on me when I needed his strength, resulting in Bjorn's death. I was angry with Khansman for trying to kill my friends. I was angry with Sheila for making the wish that got us into this predicament, not to mention last night. I was angry with the people here that treated me like a freak, even though I expected that to happen. Most of all, I was angry with myself. I prided myself on my ability to identify, adapt to and overcome problems. I wasn't doing a very good job.

  Next, surprisingly enough was jealousy. I was jealous of Sheila and his ability to adapt to this situation better than I. This surprised me, as I never thought of myself as the jealous type. I had fought being a woman fang and claw from the beginning. Sheila just slipped into the role, trying to enjoy the experience to its most. I had become even more of a tight ass than I was when I was human or bear.

  After examining those two big emotions, I found fear to be lurking in the shadows. This surprised me. Fear was an emotion I learned to deal with a long time ago. The fact that it was there wasn't the surprise. The surprise was what I feared. I was afraid of losing my identity. Not my identity as Arden, but as that of a man. I feared letting the female side of myself loose. If I did, I was afraid of what might happen to me when I became a man again. I was afraid I might like making love to a man too much. I was afraid of becoming gay. This was something I would have to deal with over time. I suppose I could live with becoming another Eddy Izzard, just as long as I still preferred girls.

  Examining the rest of the emotions, I found they were trivial. Permitting them to wash over me and flow through me I acknowledged them and finally centered my self emotionally. Sitting alone in the darkness of my mind, I felt the one remaining constant emotion that had been buried beneath it all, my love for Sheila. It had sustained me through the recent trials and tribulations that we had endured. Now, allowed to come forward, it filled me with its warming glow.

  Basking in the warmth of the sun, I heard the call of birds, the rustle of the leaves and the sound of the water as it flowed. I smelled the water in the brook, flowers and grass. The breeze gently blew against my fur, stroking it with its feather touch. Enjoying the moment, I let all my worries and cares flow from me. I was in harmony with my surroundings.

  Hearing the snap of a twig, looked towards the sound, half drawing the Wakazashi from its scabbard. Seeing that it was Sheila, I replaced the sword in its sheath and watched him as he walked cautiously over to me. Scooting to one side on the rock, I made room for him. Settling in beside me, Sheila tried to fold his legs into a lotus. I had to laugh as he grunted at the effort, finally giving up and simply crossing them before him.

  Turning to me, I could see the concern etched in Sheila's face. Not giving him a chance to say anything, I rocked over onto my hip, grabbing his neck and kissing him. Once the initial shock of what I had done passed, Sheila wrapped his arms around me and returned the kiss. Breaking it, I sat back and hung my head.

  "What's going on, Arden?" he asked, concern in his voice. Not quite sure how to explain it, I finally just shook my head. "I'm sorry, Sheila. I've been a total jerk," I confessed to him. "I don't understand," he said, still confused. "Why did you run off like that back there?" Giving a little shrug, I couldn't look him in the eyes. "I was mad about last night," I confessed.

  Taking my paw, Sheila held it in his hands. "I know you got drunk so you'd be able to stand going to bed with me," he said quietly. "I understand how difficult the idea is for you, and I haven't made it any easier. I just couldn't bring myself to do it though, Arden. Not like that. I want our first time to be special," he said pleading.

  What Sheila said soaked in. Looking up at him, I raised my ears. "You mean you didn't....?" I asked, the question incomplete. Confused Sheila just shook his head. Understanding dawned on him and he laughed. "You thought that I screwed you while you were drunk?" he asked, still laughing. Totally embarrassed, I nodded. "I assumed that's why you tossed the panties on my head. As a trophy," I said. Now completely out of control Sheila laughed so hard he was having trouble staying on the rock. The absurdity of the situation sank in and I joined him. "No...." he said, waiving a hand at me. "They were hanging on the door to the closet. They landed there after you kicked them off last night," he explained between laughs. Putting my face in my hands, my embarrassment now total and absolute. I had gotten upset over an imagined wrong.

  At last, getting a grip on himself, Sheila patted me on the leg. "I've had to put up with so many jerks that thought the only way to have sex was to get a girl drunk. There's no way I could do that to you," he declared. Rubbing his hand along the inside of my thigh, Sheila gently stroked the fur. "I could never do something like that to you," he promised, quietly.

  Feeling my body responding to his attentions, I felt the swirl of emotions as they bubbled up within me. All my hang-ups as a guy were there vying for my attention. I wasn't quite ready to try and give them the brush off. Snuggling up close to Sheila, I lifted his arm off my leg and over my shoulder, hugging it tight. Laying my head against him, I let out a sigh. "I'm sorry, hon. I'm still just not ready," I said quietly. Giving me a hug, Sheila lifted my muzzle and gave me another kiss. "That's all right. I think I can live la vida vergine for a bit longer," he said with a quiet chuckle.

  As I closed my eyes, I felt sorry for Sheila. I'd been a total dick tease yesterday and then he managed to resist temptation of me pawing him last night. Now, I was again putting him off. "I don't know how you put up with me," I said quietly. Tickling me under my chin with his free hand, Sheila let out a small chuckle. "I seem to remember a certain bear putting up with a lot of crap from a certain vixen," he said, hugging me again.

  I could have sat there forever, but my stomach objected. It seams a half of a mug of chicken broth wasn't enough to hold me for long. Letting out a low moan, I untangled myself from Sheila. Accepting a hand up, I brushed off my dress. It was comfortable enough considering I didn't have the layers I saw humans wearing, but it wasn't me. Or rather that vixen look I fell in love with. I'd have to see if Sheila could help me work with them for something a little more....exotic looking.

  Walking back to town, I gave my head a little scratch. Sheila had gigged me for going out with my fur a mess. That reminded me to explain that humans referred to head-fur as hair. Using a small strip of cloth he'd cut from my sash, Sheila had tied my hair back in a severe ponytail. It pulled on my scalp and made my head itch.

  I noticed that although people still tended to stare, they weren't paying quite as much attention to me. Sheila wanted to go find a restaurant, but I insisted on returning to the room first. He had left his swords there. Not that I expected him to be able to defend himself, but they were something important to me. I didn't want them stolen.

  As we stepped into the hotel, I was stunned by what I saw. The place was packed. Every table had people at it except one in the middle. Every head in the house looked our way as people began to furiously whisper amongst themselves. The innkeeper came over to us. "I'm sorry, but word of your companion has gotten around," he said, speaking to Sheila. "I'm afraid we've got people here from all over the area looking for a spectacle."

  The guy sounded apologetic, but the empty table in the middle made me suspicious. "Gee, what a coincidence that there's one table left, and in the middle of the room, too," I commented sarcastically, glaring at the innkeeper. Taking a step towards him, I laid my ears back. "Don't give me any crap about having to save us a table either," I said with a slight snarl. "Next time you feel compelled to save my lord and me a table, make it the one in the corner, where I was sitting last night."

  The innkeeper's eyes got wide with the realization that he'd made a very serious mistake. "Yes my lady. I'm sorry. It won't happen again," he stammered out.

  Satisfied that I'd made my point, I stepped around the old man and headed for the stairs. It took all the effort I could scrape up to relax my ears and lift my tail. I had an audience and I didn't want to give a bad impression.

  Reaching the room door, I unlocked it and walked in. Either Sheila had straightened up the place, or the old man's daughter had been in taking care of maid service. The honey bucket was empty and the bed had been made. Both of Sheila's swords were still on the table next to the bed, to my relief.

  With a sigh, I walked over to the table and picked up the swords and cloth band. Returning to Sheila as he closed the door, I held them out. "Please, if you leave the room, wear these," I pleaded. Taking the cloth, Sheila began to wind the belt. "I don't even know how to use them. I'd be as likely to cut myself as I would anyone else," ha said in way of an excuse. Watching to make sure that he got the swords threaded properly so they wouldn't twist or slide out, I thought of what to say. "I know, love, but it's part of the veneer. You're my lord and liege. You may not be a warrior, but you shouldn't be defenseless," I explained. Considering the predicament, I could see Sheila's point.

  I spent a moment considering the situation. Sheila was right. With a shrug and a sigh, I removed the Katana from Sheila's belt and inserted it into mine. "Please promise me you'll carry the Tanto?" I asked. Smiling, Sheila looked relieved not to have to carry the big blade while nodding.

  We were interrupted by the sound of a knock at the door. Raising an eyebrow, I watched as Sheila opened the door. It was the serving girl from down stairs. "Pardon the intrusion, but would you like me to bring some food and drink up for you?" she asked politely. Sheila and I exchanged looks. I was just hungry and didn't care, but he didn't want to eat in the room. "Thank you, but we want to look around for a bit. We'll find a place to eat," Sheila explained. Smiling, the girl nodded. "If you like there's a very nice restaurant further in towards town, by the river docks. It's called Jeklom's. It's about a twenty minute walk, but I think you'll find the food well worth the trip, though it is very expensive," she informed us. Seeing that I didn't care, Sheila got detailed directions from the girl.

  Passing through the commons area, I was once again reminded of my uniqueness. Although the room had fewer people in it than before, the reaction was almost identical when I came down. Keeping my tail high, I did my best imitation of Sheila's strut and walked out the door.

  Once again out in front of the hotel, I took a good look at the town. At first glance it appeared to be a small town by a stream, but I realized that was an optical illusion. From the girl's description of the area, the Duke's great grandfather, upon receiving his fife, decided that he wanted to avoid the same problems that other central cities had. In response, he had laid down very specific rules about maintaining a large percentage of the forest to help break up the town. Apparently he despised the look of "stone cities" and preferred to keep a rural feel to his Dukedom.

  Following the main road through this part of town, we found that it lead past a peninsula of forest that I thought was solid woods, but in fact was only a couple of hundred yards deep. The road led to a large intersection where it crossed four other roads in a five-way intersection. Watching as traffic filtered between the different sections of town on this side of the river, I was suddenly struck by the fact that I'd seen something like this before. Laughing at the vision, I clung to Sheila for support.

  "All right. Care to let me in on what's so funny?" he asked. Waving my arm in a sweeping gesture, I gave a small bow. "Welcome to Disneyland. Please enjoy your stay." Realizing what I meant, Sheila looked around for a second and made the connection. Off in the distance, the castle that belonged to the Duke was visible, its flag tipped spires raised to the sun.

  Laughing, Sheila took my arm, leading me to our lunch date at Jeklom's.

Chapter 5