Chapter 1: The Funeral
Josephine Grey let out a long sigh, one arm gently wrapped around her son’s shoulder as the two sat on a bench at Zootopia Central Station. Chris Rowan’s death had taken a great deal out of the two, though the young tod kit that was leaning into her seemed the most heart broken. Jo had lost an old lover, but Kody had lost his father.
The funeral was the worst part for the kit. He’d sniffled and whimpered through the service, holding onto his mother and his stuffed Robin Hood doll. Deep down, Jo was happy she hadn’t told him to leave it at his grandparent’s apartment. It was probably the only thing keeping him from outright breaking down and crying, not that the vixen would blame him if he did. That all changed when they lay his father to rest. He’d openly sobbed, his arms wrapping around his mother’s legs as he whimpered out how it wasn’t fair that his daddy was gone. This of course only drew eyes to Jo and Kody, though Kody couldn’t see them.
The wake had been the very pinnacle of awfulness for the funeral. Because of Kody’s outburst, he’d been forced to meet many different people whether he wanted to or not. He’d met foxes and wolves and domestic dogs and domestic cats and mice and rats and squirrels and horses and elephants and hippos and giraffes and antelope and lions and tigers and bears. Each and every one of them specifically came to see him, all of them curious about his outburst as his sire was laid to rest.
The tod was already skittish around strangers, and having to meet all these different people only scared him more and more to the point where he’d actually hidden behind his mother, using her tail and thigh to conceal himself. Jo was able to shield her kit from the barrage of questions, though many were disappointed that Kody wasn’t answering for himself and was downright refusing to come out of hiding.
“Mama, I wanna go home,” he’d whimpered into the back of her thigh as his body quivered. Jo couldn’t tell her son no. He was frightened and miserable.
“All right, sugar fox,” she’d said before picking him up and walking over to Richard and Ruby.
Kody’s grandparents had been chatting with a group of people, mainly some of Richard’s long-time clients who were expressing their condolences. Ruby was the first to see Jo and Kody approach, though, her expression immediately changed when she saw the distress on the reddish-yellow vixen’s face.
Jo didn’t even have to say a word. Kody’s grandmother leaned in to tell her husband that it was time they left. Richard had to lean backwards to take a look around a very large hippo couple to see why they needed to go. His grandtod’s face was buried against his mother’s collarbone, whimpering and whining and crying in a display that only made the elder tod remember his youngest, Mike, doing the exact same thing at his grandmother’s funeral.
“If you will excuse me, I need to make an announcement,” the fox said as he slowly slid from the pack of mammals to make his way over to a nearby table only to scramble atop it. Richard reached down to grab a fork and a glass, clacking the two objects together to get everyone’s attention.
The entire room slowly turned to stare at the vulpine, most holding onto drinks as others kept drinking. “Ladies and Gentlemammals, I want to thank you all for coming,” the tod started out. “I know Chris would be happy to have said goodbye to all of you, but now,” he paused as he looked down, “Oh! I didn’t know this cheese plate had cheddar!”
Ruby let out a mighty cough that caused the fox to regain his senses. “Oh! Yes. But now, I hate to say that we need to call the wake to a close. Thank you all for coming. Please! Take some food home with you!”
Ruby rolled her eyes as the ark of mammals slowly began to disperse, a few of them walking over to tell Ruby and Richard goodbye before sauntering off. In the end, there were only six left in the room; Jo, Kody, Richard, Ruby, as well as Kody’s uncle, Mike, and his girlfriend, Helen.
“It’s a good thing we don’t have to clean this up,” Richard said with a smile as he slowly slipped off the table to make his way back over to Ruby, Jo, and Kody, “Aren’t you glad that I made the reservation at the Oasis?”
His wife let out a long, deep sigh and shook her head as her son and his girlfriend made their way over to them.
“Are you heading back to the apartment, dad,” Mike queried as he held onto his girlfriend’s hand. Ruby slowly nodded, before she realized something important. “Oh! Mike! I don’t believe I’ve introduced you to Josephine,” she said but Jo was smiling, Helen was giggling, and Mike shook his head, “You don’t have to introduce me, mom. Helen, Jo, and I were in the same classes at ZU.”
His mother blinked a few times before she looked over at Jo, who just nodded her head. Mike and Helen smiled warmly at the reddish-yellow vixen who was holding a cherry red tod kit.
“It’s nice to see you again, Jo,” Helen said warmly, the black and silver vixen slowly moving in closer to look at Kody. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Kody,” she churred as a hand gently brushed the top of the kit’s head, “Your mother told me a lot about you.”
Mike, Ruby, and Richard blinked, but Jo’s face flushed. “What,” the second youngest tod in the group let out as he stared right at his girlfriend. The silver fox giggled, “You didn’t wonder why I still had Jo’s address and number?”
Mike shook his head, “Well, I just thought that, ya know, you two were good friends in college and everything.”
Helen shook her head, “You can be really dense, you know that.”
Jo giggled softly, “Wez kept in touch. Helen wuz a might curious what it’d be like having a kit.”
The boyfriend blinked a few times. Mike hadn’t expected that, then again, he probably should have. Helen had a number of friends, but Jo was the first one to get pregnant, so it was only natural that she would get curious. Then again, part of him was wondering if she’d gotten interested in finding out about what it’s like to have a kit because she was wanting one or two with him.
“Oh… I… uh… I didn’t know that,” the tod stumbled over his words as he looked at his girlfriend who was chuckling softly. She turned her attention to the young kit who seemed to become less and less frightened.
Jo looked down at her son, his eyes staring up at her. “Kody, this here’s yer Aunt Helen,” the reddish-yellow vixen said softly as the silver and black vixen continued to smile at him. The cherry red tod’s attention slowly began to move towards Helen, staring at her for a few speechless seconds before muttering, “H… Hello Aunt Ellen.”
The other vixen giggled, “It’s Helen, Kody.”
Jo shook her head, “He’s gots trouble sumtimes with his h’s, but he’ll git it right one day.”
The silver and black pelted female nodded as she slowly stood back up to grab her boyfriend’s arm. She tugged the tod over to Jo and Kody. “This is my boyfriend, your Uncle Mike.”
The two tods stared at one another, not blinking for a few seconds. Mike felt like he was staring at a miniature version of his older brother. Slowly, the red-orange furred man spoke, “Hello, Kody.”
“H… Hello Uncle Mike,” the kit replied hesitantly, still holding onto his Robin Hood doll.
“Do you like Robin Hood,” the elder tod said as his attention turned to the stuffed animal in the other fox’s arms.
Kody raised and lowered his head slowly, “Y… Yeah.”
“I like Robin Hood too.”
“G… Grampa Rick said Iz r’lated to’m.”
“We both are,” Mike replied before adding, “You and me that is. We’re both related to Robin Hood. Your Grandpa Rick is my dad.”
There was a hint of understanding now as the kit remembered Richard say something about how he, his father, and another tod used to play Robin Hood. Slowly, the tod began to wriggle against his mother, signaling he wanted to be put down as he began to release his death grip on her.
Jo slowly knelt down, helping her son down onto the carpeted floor. The vixen kept kneeling as her son slowly turned to stare up at his uncle. “Grampa says you and daddy and him used t’play Robin Hood.”
“We sure did when I was your age.” Mike smiled as he started to remember him and his brother and his father running around in the park. The two kits had always fought over who would be Robin Hood and who would be Will Scarlet. Richard had had to force them into a compromise where they would take turns; Chris would get evens, Mike would get odds. They were still good memories though.
“Do ya wants t’play Robin Hood with me, Uncle Mike?”
The elder tod smiled, “I’d love to, though, I’ll have to take a rain check right now.”
“Rain? Check?” The kit tilted his head in confusion, but his mother leaned in to whisper, “It means he wants t’ but cain’t rights now.”
Kody let out a long, “Oh,” before he looked up at the elder male, “Okay. C’n we play Robin Hood t’morrah?”
His uncle chuckled, “Not tomorrow, Kody, but I promise we will next time you come to visit.”
The kit nodded his head as he smiled, “Okay, Uncle Mike.”
Jo slowly stood up, her hand moving to take Kody’s. “Ya still wants t’go home, sugar fox?”
Her son looked unsure at what he wanted. He’d wanted to go home when he’d been surrounded by strangers, but now, well, now he wasn’t sure. “Can… can we gits ice cream on the way, mama?”
Richard grinned as he let out a warm churr at the thought of ice cream. “MMm… I think Kody’s idea is wonderful! Let’s get ice cream!”
His wife rolled her eyes and shook her head. The eldest tod in the room had the innate ability to act completely childish sometimes. She was just about to say something when her husband continued with, “And you’ve been such a brave tod today, Kody. I think Robin Hood would be proud.”
“R… really grampa?”
“Of course. And because you’ve been so brave, would you like to go to the toy store?”
Kody’s face lit up as he looked up at his mother. “Can we, mama?”
Jo smiled softly as she leaned in to give her son a kiss on the top of his head, “Course we can, sugar fox.”
That was how that day, the previous day, ended. Though they weren’t able to find anything the kit wanted at the toy store, the ice cream and the promise to mail Chris and Mike’s old Robin Hood toys to him made the kit smile.
Chapter 2: All Aboard
The thoughts of the previous day slowly faded as Jo gently brushed over her son’s shoulder. “Ya ready t’go home, sugar fox,” she whispered softly into one of his ears as he watched the hustle and bustle of the big city swarm around them.
The fox was happy that Kody wasn’t trying to hide behind her again, though, when they’d first arrived at the station, he had. The vixen had solved that fairly quickly by getting him a chocolate milkshake that was made with soft serve ice cream. He’d been slurping and nursing on it for at least fifteen minutes as he leaned against his mother, eyes watching as hundreds of different mammal species wandered past him.
“Yes, mama,” he said softly, his lips still wrapped around the straw as his tail flopped about behind him. His mother smiled softly as she leaned in to give him a little kiss on the top of his head. “Ya ready t’be wake the whole trip?”
The kit nodded his head enthusiastically as he started to ignore the milkshake entirely, “Yes, mama! I cain’t wait!”
Jo smiled at her son. She was just about to say something when a booming voice roared over the station’s loudspeakers. “Now Boarding on Platform 10, The Homesteader to Duwamish with stops in Bunnyburrow, Wolfsberg, Todsglen, Clydesdale, Aegidienberg, Holstetten, Aure et Saint-Girons, Tervurenmont, and Bernardville.”
The vixen reached out to take her son’s hand, “C’mon Kody. We gots t’git t’our train.”
The kit held onto her hand warmly, still clutching onto his Robin Hood doll and his milkshake. “Okay, mama.”
His mother smiled as they started to make their way through the throngs of mammals, weaving in and out of the packs, herds, troops, and prides. The vixen set a decent pace for her kit, the little fox scampering just slightly behind her trying to keep up. Somehow, the kit managed to not drop his toy or his milkshake the entire time as they darted between people to get to the platform.
Jo came to a near screeching halt as she and her son ended up at the back of the line. This train wasn’t like the one they’d taken almost a week ago. This was a long-haul train that went nearly clear across the country to the massive emerald city of Duwamish, so it was as dull and plain, the exterior a brushed metal from the engine to the last car with the barest of markings on it.
The vixen kept holding on to her son’s hand as they slowly started to move with the line. Her ears flicked about on her head as they each took a single step at a time until coming to one of the many conductors. The large bury St. Bernard smiled at the two foxes as he stuck out his hand, “Tickets please.”
Jo nodded and presented the two tickets. The domestic took the two paper slips, giving them a once over before taking out a hole punch and making a hole in each one. “Enjoy the trip, miss. Your seats are upstairs above the sleepers,” He said with a big smile before stepping aside to let the two foxes board.
Kody looked about as he held onto his mother’s hand tightly as the two slipped into the car before climbing the stairs to the second level. The vixen was looking at the tickets, as she guided her son down the single main aisle. A row of seats ran down either side of the aisle from the front of the car to the rear in sets of twos, the chairs looking like something Jo and Kody would have seen if there had been any flights to Bunnyburrow. Being a small rural town, the only airport Bunnyburrow had was non-towered with a short runway. When it was built back in the 1930s, it serviced single and twin engine airliners that rarely carried more than ten passengers. Now though, no airlines serviced the airport, which had been taken over by crop dusters and a flight school.
Slowly, the mother-son pair found their way to their seat. Jo let Kody slide in first, a big grin on his face as he took off his backpack before sitting next to the large window. His mother put the backpack and her leather bag in the overhead compartment above them before joining her son in his amazement as he looked out at Zootopia Central Station, a city within the city.
Other passengers sauntered by them, most not paying any attention to the two foxes as they slid into their assigned seats to either start reading or continue their conversations. When all the passengers were seated, their personal cargo loaded, the train’s whistle blew as the conductors began to close the doors.
Kody and Jo felt the train lurch as the engine kicked in, slowly tugging on the cars behind it to start its locomotion.
Chapter 3: Unwelcomed Advances
Zootopia began to melt away as the Mamtrak train began its journey through the four major districts, following the tracks as it slowly began to build up speed. The buildings became smaller and smaller until they faded into lush forest.
Kody’s eyes were glued on the window the entire time, the kit wanting to make sure he saw everything as the iron wheels under him clicked and clacked over steel rails. The young tod’s tail flicked and flopped about behind him in excitement.
Jo let out a soft chuckle as she watched the trees rush by. They weren’t going as fast as the high-speed train, but they were going at a decent pace. It would usually add an hour or so to the trip, making it around three hours, but she wasn’t in a great rush.
“Ya likes th’train, sugar fox,” she asked sweetly. Her son turned his head around to give her a wide grin followed by a nod. “I sure do, mama.”
“Ya thought bout whatcha wants fer yer birthdy?”
The kit nodded his head. “Can I gets a model train, mama? Likes that one in th’hobby store?”
Jo smiled softly. She figured that these rides might spark some interest in trains. She’d taken him to Leonard and Allison’s Hobby Shop a few times. The first time mostly because the tod was curious, and then the remaining times because he loved going to look. The vixen knew exactly what he was talking about, a set that the one old mouse had mentioned was a great starter kit, but she didn’t have the money to buy it.
“Well, I thinks ya shud mention it t’Granpa Rick,” his mother said softly. Her son’s grandfather had offered to buy him one of the most expensive toys in the store, but the kit hadn’t been wholly interested in having a video game console and four games or a miniature battery powered car. As soon as the old tod had mentioned Robin Hood, that’s all the kit could think about.
“Okay, mama. I’ll tells him,” Kody replied with a smile on his lips.
Jo grinned back as she slowly turned away from her son, letting him gaze out the window. The vixen was almost sorry she hadn’t brought along a book to read, and she was contemplating just what to do on the ride when she heard someone say, “You ‘ave a verie ‘andsome son, madame.”
The mother’s ears flicked about her head as she turned to look at a very well dressed skunk sitting across the center aisle from her. He wasn’t anything of note. His fur was a dark grey that nearly looked black with a predominantly white furred face. “Thank ya,” she said as she gave him a cautious once over.
“I am sure you and your ‘uzband are verie proud.” He continued as he smiled at the vixen.
“He is… I mean… he was,” Jo replied as she eyed him curiously.
“You and ee are… ‘ow do you say… zee deevorced? I am so sorrie to ear zat, madame. Eet must be ‘orrible on your lee-tell keet ‘aving to share ze custodie.”
The vixen realized that he could easily see that she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. Her ears slowly started to flatten against her head. “No. I ain’t divorced,” Jo said in a low tone as she turned her head to look at Kody. He was still focused on watching the world go by that he wasn’t paying attention to anyone else. “He died.”
“Oh non,” the skunk replied as he put a hand on his chest, “Oh madame, zat ees ‘orrible! I am so verrie sorrie to ear zat. Eet must ave been ze deveestating for you both.”
“Un love-lee veexenne like yourself should not be alone, madame.”
Jo knew instantly where this was going. “I ain’t lone. I jist ain’ts remarried m’new boyfriend is all.”
“Oh? A boyfriend? An-uzer fox?”
The skunk didn’t seem to be losing interest at all. “Ah. I see. You too enjoy zose outside your own species?”
The vixen chuffed a little. She knew where he was trying to lead the conversation, what he was hoping to do, and Jo wasn’t remotely interested. “I likes m’wolf,” she said sternly enough for the skunk to finally take the hint.
The male held up his hands in defense, as if to say, “I wasn’t insinuating anything,” but the moment for that had already passed. “I weesh you and your wolf ze happiest of marriages, madame,” he said with a smile, only to lean in to say, “But eef you should ev-air weesh to try ze skunk, just look up Philippe Mouffette.”
Jo let out a soft growl and a stern glare that only seemed to make this Philippe character grin wider before he slowly moved away from her to turn back to the book he was reading. The vixen caught a glance of the title, The Kama Citra. She blinked a few times before blushing, her gaze returning to look at her son who was still glued to the window.
Chapter 4: Disembarking
Jo was happy about one thing, Philippe hadn’t bothered her again during the entire trip, though out of the corner of her eye, she watched him pull the same trick with a slender female domestic cat. The two eventually left the main cabin together to head down the rear stairs, obviously heading for one of the unoccupied sleeper compartments. The vixen rolled her eyes and shook her head. She had a feeling that was what that skunk had been after.
Her attention stayed on her son, who quickly grew bored with the window. When the train left the forest, it entered into a long, monotonous stretch of farmers’ fields that seemed to never end. There were a few orchards here and there, but for the most part, it was nothing but rows upon rows of wheat, barley, corn, and hundreds of other vegetables.
Kody looked back at his mother, a smile on his face as he held onto his Robin Hood doll. “Mama, can ya reads me that Robin Hood book gramma and grampa gave me?”
The vixen smiled warmly, “Of course, sugar fox.”
Slowly, she slid out of her chair, standing up to grab her kit’s backpack from the overhead bin. She unzipped the main compartment to pull out a very old and worn looking children’s book before sliding back down into her seat.
Her son scrambled away from the window, gently leaning against his mother as she showed him the picture of Robin Hood, Little John, and Maid Marian on the cover before opening it up to the first page.
Kody hung on every word, his tail flicking and flapping about as he hugged his doll tightly against him. His eyes danced over every page, though when Marian and Robin kissed, his face scrunched up as he let out an, “Eeew.”
Jo giggled softly as she gave her son a gently pat on the head. His attitude towards that was going to change eventually. Slowly, she went back to reading, turning each page and glancing over at her kit until the final page was read.
The vixen closed the book as she leaned in to give her son a gentle kiss on the top of the head. At first, she didn’t notice the conductor wandering down the aisle until he called out, “Next stop! Bunnyburrow!”
Jo smiled as her ears drank in the news. “We’re almost home, sugar fox,” she said softly as she gave the top of the tod kit’s head a gentle stroke. His fluffy tail flopped about behind him as he smiled up at her. He was almost as happy to get home as she was. Not that either of them hadn’t enjoyed meeting Richard and Ruby, but everything with Chris had taken a great deal out of both foxes.
All Jo could think about was curling up with Hubert, and she was fairly sure that Kody was wanting to show everyone the picture of his father. Richard and Ruby had given them a plethora of photos, including all the ones of her and Chris, and the kit had studied everyone while sporting a massive grin. It hadn’t taken much to convince Jo to make a him a photo album, especially not after he said the magic word nearly fifty times.
The two foxes focused on the window again, watching massive rows of produce fly by before the train turned towards the station. The produce slowly began to fade as tall trees lined the edges of the farms, creating windbreaks. Gently, the massive train began to reduce speed, the breaks squeaking and squealing as the several hundred tons of steel, fur, plastic, and leather began to slow until finally stopping.
Jo and Kody slipped out of their seats, the vixen reaching up into the overhead to pull down their meager luggage. The kit slid his backpack onto his back after his mother slipped his favorite book inside and zipped up the main compartment before grabbing her own leather hand bag that was full of her clothes and pictures of Chris.
The mother-son pair worked their way down the aisle, but not before Jo felt a pair of lustful eyes upon her. She could only guess that it was Philippe, someone she had no interest in giving any attention to, so she ignored him entirely as she escorted her son off the train. The vixen gave the conductor a warm smile, but he just smiled and nodded back giving a canned, “Enjoy your stay,” before stepping out onto the platform as he waited for any passengers to board.
Chapter 5: Homecoming
Hubert Hemming was covered in perspiration. It may have been May, but between the warming weather and the constant moving of hay bales, he’d worked up quite a sweat. The wolf let out a heavy pant as he pulled out an already soaked rag to drag it across his brow. It didn’t exactly help, but it was better than nothing.
Secretly though, Hubert had been sweating mentally for the last few days over Josephine Grey. She’d left for the big city because Kody’s father had become ill. But a lump had formed in pit of his stomach. It wasn’t that he didn’t miss the lovely vixen, he did. He thought of her every night as he passed out in bed. The lump was from him learning that he had been with a married woman. Or was she divorced? Or was she separated? Hubert wasn’t entirely sure. He’d never noticed a ring on her finger, but the way she’d stopped everything to go and see that Chris person made him feel lower than the worms in the dirt.
The large, muscular wolf grunted as he picked up another massive bale of hay with just one arm, slowly sliding it under his armpit before he headed towards a large flatbed trailer that contained a mighty stack of them. He’d just tossed the new bale onto the pile when his ears picked up the sound of Amos Grey’s old beat up station wagon pulling up to the farmhouse.
Two things ran through Hubert’s mind. The first was how happy he was that Josephine was back. The second was how he was going to tell her that he thought they might want to break up. The huge canine chewed on his lower lip as he slowly started to make his way through the field, heading towards the farmhouse.
As soon as they saw the station wagon pulling into the dirt and grass driveway, Betsy, Jeane, and Gideon Grey poured out of the front of the house. All of the foxes sported happy smiles as they peered out at their kin in the vehicle. Betsy didn’t even let Jo shut the door before running down the porch steps to wrap her arms around her daughter.
“Iz s’glad yer home,” the elder vixen said as she teared up, “Iz s’sorry bout Kody’s daddy.”
Jo gently nuzzled her mother’s cheek as she fought the urge to cry. “He went in his sleep, but he was s’happy t’see Kody. We made our peace and… well… I thinks that’s why he wuz hangin’ on fer s’long.”
Betsy slowly broke the hug as she nodded her head up and down. “Iz happy t’ear ya’ll settled up. When theys first called ya, you were madder than a puffed toad.”
The younger vixen chuckled softly as she leaned back, her head turning to look over at her son while he slid out of the passenger’s seat. Slowly, her mother turned her own head to look over at her grandtod. “Is he gonna b’okay?”
Slowly, Jo nodded her head. “I thinks he’ll b’fine, mama. His grandpa and grandma gave him lotsa pitures of his daddy, s’he wants t’show’em round t’errybody. Iz hopin’ t’make a scrapbook fer’im, s’I’ll be heddin’ t’Leonard’n’Allison’s in th’mornin’ t’git supplies.”
The vixen turned her gaze back over to her mother, “Where’s pa’n’Josh?”
Betsy smiled, “Oh, theys went t’town. Had t’hit Havoc’s General Store fer sum parts fer th’tracter. They’ll b’back in about two hours er so.”
Jo paused for a second, “I… Is Hubert here?”
The elder vixen smiled, “He’s prolly still workin’ th’field.”
Her daughter was just about to answer when she noticed the massive wolf coming around the house. There was a smile on his face, but it wasn’t his usual one, no this one was more of a concerned smile. Jo looked back at her mother. “Mama, couldja takes Kody inside? I needs t’talk to Hubert.”
Betsy nodded her head in understanding before slowly moving over to her grandtod to take his hand. “C’mon Kody. Yer mama says ya gots summin’ t’shows us.”
The kit smiled happily, not really paying attention to his mother at all as he started to walk inside. The other foxes on the porch followed Betsy’s lead as the elderly vixen gave them a nod to give Jo and Hubert some privacy.
Hubert kept grinning as he slowly approached. From his odor and the dampness of his clothing, he had certainly been in the fields all day. “H… Hey Jo-sef-een,” he said in his usual goofy tone as he made his way towards the diminutive vixen.
Jo on the other hand didn’t say a word as she made her way over to him, her arms sliding open to give the massive, muscular wolf a big hug. She didn’t care that he was perspiring or odiferous, she just wanted to give him a massive hug. The vixen was a bit surprised though as the canine seemed to slowly wrap his arms around her, his hands moving to gently rub her back through her sun dress.
“Jo-sef-een,” he started out sounding very timid, “C… can wez talk?”
Slowly the fox pulled herself away, “I thinks we shud, sugar wolf.”
Hubert got that goofy blushing smile on his face again, something that made the vixen grin warmly. He loved being called that. Gingerly, she broke the hug, reaching a hand down to take one of his as they moved towards the porch swing.
Chapter 6: Misunderstanding
The old swing rocked back and forth under the weight of the vixen and the wolf. Neither of them seemed to speak as Jo leaned back into the swinging bench. The fox noticed Hubert’s ears flicking around out of the corner of her eye. He was in deep thought.
“Hubert,” the vixen said softly as she leaned back up. Her words broke that line of thought, the wolf turning his head to look at her.
“J… Jo-sef-een,” he replied sweetly, “I… I feels bad, Jo-sef-een.”
“About what, shoog?”
“Well,” that grey face flushed, “Well, ya knows… how we… uhm….”
The vixen smiled softly, her hand moving to rest on his thigh, “We wuz intimate?”
“Whydja feel bad, shoog?”
“Well,” he paused, “You was a murried vixen, Jo-sef-een.”
The fox blinked several times before shaking her head, “Hubert. I ain’t never been married.”
“R… Really? But… ya went t’Z’topia t’sees’m.”
Jo patted the wolf’s leg, “I wents there fer Kody… and… well… fer his sake, I needed t’git sumthangs smoothed out with his daddy b’fore… well… I knows mama prolly toldja.”
Hubert seemed to let out a massive sigh of relief as his usual smile returned. “Ya don’ts knows how happy I iz t’ear that, Jo-sef-een. Iz s’shamed of m’self cuz I thoughts ya wuz a murried vixen.”
“It ain’t never crossed yer mind that I might’ve been devorced?”
“Well… I guess ya coulda been, but how ya packed yer bags’n’all, Iz jist thought ya wuz. I ain’t never hearda no dee-vorced gal er even no sep-rated gal droppin’ errythin’ t’go sees theys ex husband.”
Jo giggled softly as she leaned up to give Hubert a kiss on the cheek. “Yer such a silly wolf, Hubert.”
“Mama says Iz special.”
The vixen gave the wolf’s thigh a squeeze as she leaned into him, “Ya sure iz, sugar wolf.”
The massive canine blushed deeply as something in his overalls began to stir. “Jo-sef-een. Cain we… uh… y’knows.”
The vixen giggled, “After ya shower.”
“Uhm… cain we… in th’shower?”
Jo giggled as she leaned up to give him another smooch, “Of course. Sundy mornin’ when there ain’t no body round.”
“I loves you, Jo-sef-een,” Hubert growled softly as he leaned in to give her a smooch.
“I loves ya too, Hubert. Now, ya shud prolly get back t’work. I’ll pays ya a visit later. Okay?”
“Okay, Jo-sef-een,” the wolf said as he wagged his tail furiously at the thought of finally getting another night alone with the lovely vixen.
Jo gave his thigh another pat before sliding out of the porch swing to head back inside the farmhouse.
Chapter 7: Photos
Kody was sitting on the couch, stuck in between his Aunt Jeane and Grandmother Betsy, a big grin on his face as his mother walked into the room. “Mama,” the young kit called out to her, “Can I has th’pitures gramma’n’grampa gave me?”
His mother smiled softly, “I gots t’git m’bag first, sugar fox.” The vixen slipped back out the front door for five minutes before returning with her leather bag. Kody’s mother walked past them to head into the dining room. She lay the bag out before reaching in and pulling out a large envelope full of the pictures Richard and Ruby had given their grandtod. The fox smiled happily, slowly making her way back towards her son to hand him the envelope.
The kit’s face lit up as he grabbed at the folder, pulling it to him before reaching a paw inside to pull out one large picture of his father, the one he’d first seen of him in his cap and gown. “This’s my daddy,” Kody said proudly as he showed his grandmother and aunt the photograph before handing it over to them. He reached in again to pull out a handful of pictures, all of them of Chris and Jo. “And here’s mama’n’daddy.”
Jeane and Betsy took the handful of pictures, each of them taking about half of them. Slowly the two vixens thumbed through the images, all of them showing a happy couple of foxes. The mother-daughter pair slowly exchanged a glance before looking up at Jo, who just nodded. It was very clear that there had been a time where she had loved Chris from all the photos, and from the way everything had been settled, there was a part of her that still loved him.
“Ya looks like yer pa,” Betsy said as she slowly handed her stack of photos back to Kody, but the kit was still digging in the envelope, pulling out more photos.
“That’s what Grampa Rick and Gramma Ruby say,” he replied as he exchanged one set of photos for another, this time a few of his father with his parents.
“I thinks ya looks more like this vixen here,” Jeane said as she pointed to a vixen in the photo.
“That’s Gramma Ruby.”
“Ya gots her colors,” the eldest vixen in the room responded as she looked between her grandtod and his father’s mother.
“I guess, but Gramma Ruby says I looks like m’daddy,” the kit answered as his tail started to flop around behind him, his face lighting up with glee, “and Grampa Rick told me that I’m related t’Robin Hood. I’m his great-great-great-great… uhm…. Mama? How many greats did he say?”
Jo giggled softly, “I think it was about eight er nine.”
“Great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandtod of Robin Hood,” Kody said with pride. His aunt and grandmother look skeptical, but his mother said, “G’on, show’em, sugar fox.”
The kit smiled more and more as he pulled out a copy of the Rowan Family tree that his grandsire had had made. It showed the entire line going back to Robin Locksley nee Rowan. The two vixens sitting on either side of the tod blinked as they looked it over from top to bottom.
“He musfov spent a tona money on this,” Jeane muttered as she stared up and down the tree. Jo slowly nodded her head, “Ruby said he did a lot of research on it.”
The two elder foxes gazed at the tod kit between them. He just smiled happily, his gaze moving back and forth. “I’m related to Robin Hood!”
Chapter 8: Daddy Loves You
Jo did exactly what she said. The next day, she went to Leonard and Allison’s to get the necessary supplies, namely a scrap book, some photo mounting corners, as well as a set of markers, before returning to home and setting to work. The vixen spent most of the day creating the album, mainly because each picture of her and Chris back when they were together brought back happy memories, but finally she put in the last photo. It was a picture of all of them together in the hospital, the memory still quite raw in her mind.
Kody had cried so much when she tried to take him out of the room, then again, she had cried as well. Richard and Ruby had been standing outside the door, the husband-wife pair looking at the sobbing mother and son. No one said anything, outside of Kody who was begging not for his father to go, begging for them not to leave yet.
His whimpering cries had drawn the attention of several of the orderlies, who were peeking their heads out at the sound of the crying kit. Ruby had begun to cry herself, a hand moving to wipe away the tears that gently flowed down the side of her face. Richard, however, was completely silent, looking almost made of stone as he stared at the three crying foxes. Slowly, he reached into his pocket to pull out a small disposable camera.
“I picked this up when I ran down to the Hospital’s Employee store,” he almost whispered out as he pushed the small yellow and black rectangle towards Jo. Ruby’s gaze slowly turned to look at her husband before reaching to take the camera out of his hand.
“K… Kody… Kody should have a picture with his father,” the vixen said between sniffles and tears. Jo nodded slowly as she looked down at her son, “Do ya wants a piture with daddy?”
The kit nodded his head and whimpered out a, “Yes.” His mother leaned in to give him a kiss on the top of his head before she walked back inside, followed by Ruby.
Chris had been overjoyed when they’d returned, the dying tod all too happy to get pictures together with his son. They’d taken several photos together, most of them with Kody clinging onto his father. “We look like a real family,” the deep red fox said as he gave his son a kiss on the top of his head before handing him back over to his mother.
“We do,” Jo agreed as she took her son into her arms.
“I wish we could be a real family, Jo,” the dying tod said he looked at the only vixen he’d ever fallen for.
“I… I do too,” the vixen whispered, holding onto her son. She leaned in to give Chris one last kiss goodbye, but she didn’t kiss him on the cheeks, she kissed him on the lips.
“I love you, Josephine.”
“I love you too, Chris.”
The memory slowly faded with her walking out the door. It was the last words she’d spoken to him, probably the last thing he heard before he passed away, but it was true. After all the years of hating him, she found that she really did love him. Jo stared at the photo for a few more minutes, a tear slowly starting to trickle down her cheek before she slid the picture into the album.
The vixen reached over to grab a marker, slowly writing down, “I love you, Kody. Daddy will always love you.”
Jo let out a sniff as she gently closed the book. “He always will,” she whispered.
Kody smiled happily as his fingers wrapped around the scrap book/photo album. His tail flicked about behind him in glee as he started to thumb through every page, drinking in all the pictures and reading the captions. Jo had even managed to put in the family tree, giving it its own page across from three single photos of his father, mother, and him.
“I loves it, mama! Thank you,” the kit cried out in glee as he shut the book, his arms wrapping around it and hugging it tightly against him.
“Yer welcome, sugar fox,” Jo replied softly, just before her son scampered away from her, obviously wanting to show it to the rest of the family.