It was Wednesday. Sozont arrived at East Cupcake Hot Tubs, precisely
on time. Marth was already there. They went in together. Since
this date was Marth's idea, she spoke to the attendant.
—M: "A tub, please."
—A: "We're closing early tonight. I
can give you only a half-hour slot now."
Marth seemed taken aback by this news. Apparently
she had not been aware of the early closing. She looked at Sozont.
He thought shorter would be better, anyway.
—S: "Well, we're here. We might as
well take what we can get."
Marth gave money to the attendant.
—A: "Right this way." He walked them
into a room with a giant circular Jacuzzi. "The buzzer will tell you
when there's five minutes left." He left the room, closing the door
Marth took off her clothes, so Sozont did too. Marth
got into the tub. Sozont took off his underpants and walked towards
the tub. He felt odd. He was obviously naked, yet he felt like
he had a second skin, perhaps a fur-covered one, that continued to cloak
him. He was sure that Marth was looking at his groin, but he kept his
eyes and his mind focused on the ladder and on entering the tub without slipping
or anything. After sitting down in the tub, Sozont decided to make
—"Hi there! So, what should we do first?"
Sozont thought. "I guess we should do some demonstrative
swimming, to show that our bodies are well-formed and thus we are suitable
—"Okay." Marth swam around in the tub. It
didn't seem to bother her that her breasts flopped every time she changed
direction. Then it was Sozont's turn. Thankfully the tub was
small and shallow, so it was quite unclear (he thought) that he couldn't swim
very well. Sozont stopped swimming and flexed his biceps. Marth
made an approving noise. Sozont crouched down in the water, then jumped
into the air, so his penis flopped as he came back down. Marth openly
stared at Sozont's mid-section during the entire maneuver, which actually
didn't bother Sozont too much. Perhaps this hot-tub thing wasn't going
to be as bad as he had feared. Marth spoke:
—"It's too bad there's only half an hour."
—"Maybe we can do something else afterward."
—"Red Bunny is staying home in my apartment tonight."
—"So, um, what's the situation with you gals?" Were
they best friends who moved in, or roommates who got to be friends?
Marth stared at Sozont. "We are lovers, if that's
what you mean."
—"Oh. Well, I'm... having sex with Spike."
—"Whatever do you see in him? He's such an idiot!"
—"That's just his 'echidna' act. He's much brighter
when he plays a wolf."
And that was it. A topic they had been avoiding
in email for quite some time. And now it was out in the open, with
just a simple "oh." Sozont felt like there was a barrier between him
and Marth that had softened. He could get closer to her if he wanted.
Sozont moved his body closer to Marth's. She touched his arm. The
wet skin contact felt new and interesting. He touched her shoulder.
Her entire body was soft and fleshy. Sozont didn't think anyone
would want to touch his bony excuse for a physique.
Marth spoke again: "So, what do you think of Furry
—"Well, I've heard the fox-totem wants to know a little
about every topic."
—"Uh huh. So what's your totem?"
—"Oh, I don't know. I'm not really much of a
tiger, I guess."
—"You don't know what your totem is?" Marth
seemed to find this idea hard to grasp.
—"Maybe you can help me find out. There's a
nice VR program I've been meaning to try. It uses biofeedback to select
a suitable totem and then it turns you into your animal."
—"That could be fun. Which set of totems does
I think, but maybe it's a mixture of tribal beliefs."
—"We should try it sometime."
—"How about Sunday?"
—"My lair? 8 PM?"
—"Sure, I guess. So, um, how much do you make?"
Sozont told her his income level. She shook her
head in wonder.
—"There's no way I'll ever make that kind of money!"
She worked as a clerk in a department store.
—"Why do you have such a crappy job? Surely
you can do better."
—"Nobody wants to hire a fat woman. I can only
get crap jobs."
—"Really, that job would barely cover the cost of
—"Yeah. It would be cheaper for me to stay home
and take care of our kids myself."
The "stay-at-home mom" lifestyle was not a popular
choice among Furry Fairytale Land players, or at least was not much discussed
in the local media. But Sozont was in favor of anything that saved
—"My job exists in VR. I have to spend a lot
of time there. So you'd be alone with the offspring for much of the
—"That sounds like a reasonable division of labor."
Excellent! Sozont wouldn't have to spend gobs
of time in RL, after all! Sozont had thought, when they kept dancing
around this issue in email, that there was going to be a problem in this
area, but there was just no disagreement at all. Sozont wanted to kiss
Marth, but the habits of a lifetime were hard to break. He rubbed his
leg-feathers — no, just legs — against hers under the water. She
massaged his scrawny pectoral muscles. Was that a hint? Sozont
ran a paw — no, a hand — down the side of Marth's breast.
Already? Marth kissed Sozont, but when he tried
to massage her breasts some more she got out of the water. Sozont followed.
She towelled off, so he did too. She started to get dressed,
so Sozont got dressed. He was done dressing while she was still struggling
with her bra.
—"Could you help me with this?" Sozont had never
before tried to install a bra. It took effort and some hints from Marth.
She finished getting dressed, then hugged him. Sozont wasn't
sure what to do now. He returned her hug and — since his hands were
in the area anyway — massaged where her neck met her shoulders. She
rubbed the same spot on his body. It felt nice.
The door opened. The attendant's voice came in
through the opening.
—A: "You guys decent in there?"
Sozont and Marth walked out of the tub room, through the
lobby, and out to the street. Marth spoke first:
—"I had a good time."
—"Yeah. So you don't want to do anything else
—"No. I'm so sorry about the short tubbing.
I didn't know they were going to close early."
—"These things happen. So, um, totem-exploration
at my place?"
—"I'll be there!"
Sozont decided to try kissing her good-night. It
really wasn't hard, and somehow it seemed to be meaningful in some way. Then
Sozont and Marth went their separate ways back to their apartments. »»»»»»»»»»»»
Sozont had a lot to think about. The child-rearing
plan they had discussed had good points and bad points. There was
not much RL-time obligation for him, but he would be the breadwinner for
a family and might not be able to take a month or two off from work when
he felt like it, which he sometimes did. Yet the idea of being a normal
member of society seemed strangely attractive. Normal. Sozont did not often think that
this word could apply to him. But when he thought about the things
he wanted to do as a father to kits, it all seemed so very normal.
Previously, Sozont had believed that the sperm-transfer
aspect of rutting season would be something he would just have to put up
with, but now he was enthused about RL touching with Marth and wanted more.
He would have to wait until Sunday. Why hadn't he suggested something
sooner??? And Marth seemed really interested in making love to him,
though he couldn't understand why. Did he deserve her?