Austin hated three things; kids, kids, and kids. It’s not that he was envious of children; it’s that they were just so loud and noisy, and he could hear those kids pitching fits all too often. How fitting that Austin worked in a daycare center as well, making him dislike children all the more since he had to work around them. At the very least, he didn’t have to technically watch the children, he just had to check them in, take care of their snacks, clean up the place, and general miscellaneous behind the scenes work. He wore the required outfit- a white shirt with three buttons on top with a pin that was of a small planet with the words ‘Kid World’ in yellow circling that planet, along with jean shorts and white shoes.
As for Austin, he was a tiger anthro. He was striped orange and black with little rounded ears, long whiskers, and decent muscle. He worked out fairly often, taking out his anger where appropriate- on a punching bag. For the time being he sat at the desk and was working on signing paperwork filling out children names. It was approaching dinnertime and it wasn’t too busy, most of the time the only parents dropped by this late were going to pick their kids up, which Austin very much looked forward to.
He sat at his desk where in front of it was the lobby, while directly behind it, with not even a wall in the way, was the play area. Unfortunately for Austin, children could very much bother him while he was doing paperwork, though luckily there was often at least one other employee watching the children in the play area, and it wasn’t Austin.
The door to the building opened, lightly smacking a bell and making it ring softly as a creature entered the main lobby. The creature approached Austin, wearing robes that covered everything about this creature- the robes dragged along the ground even hiding that creatures own feet. The hooded being approached the desk Austin sat behind and raised it’s head- underneath the robe kept the being’s head so dark that one couldn’t even make out what was underneath, just some glowing runes, all glowed a bright green color. "Hello there." The hooded creature spoke in a soft feminine voice, though the robes actually looked like they were hiding a much larger creature underneath- one that MAYBE weighed 250 pounds, more or less. "Would you like to know your future?"
"My...future?" Austin raised his head to look up at that hooded being. Austin had met weird people during his time here, people that spoke no English, people that couldn’t remember their children’s name and went by description, heck there was that one dad that tried to leave his kid here overnight. He had met others in robes before that covered most of their face, but Austin couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t see ANYTHING underneath those robes except a few glowing runes. "My future is being here all the time, I’d imagine." He joked, often he commented about how this place was such a dead end job, at least it paid decently.
"Is that what you WANT your future to be?" The hooded creature asked. "Well, the cards said otherwise, but if that’s what you want, then so that’s what it will be." The creature reached into a pocket in those robes and pulled out a deck of tarot cards. It was then that Austin made out the creature had white furry bunny paws with short stubby digits. The creature pulled out a single card and laid it out in front of him- a card with a picture of a rattle and what looked like tears flying out from the head of it. "So your future has been decided. Enjoy." With that, the creature turned and walked out, leaving the card behind on the desk for Austin.
Austin rolled his eyes even before the creature left. The creature sounded female despite the large frame, but he just took the card and tossed it in the trash beneath him. "Weirdo." He mumbled under his breath.
Austin finished the paperwork and made his way into the kitchen. He paused briefly once he was in there as that was when he saw a large bear woman anthro- she looked at least 300 pounds and she wore what was largely a pink outfit with white frills, and had quite a bit more fat than fit- her gut pushing out as far as her chest was, while her rear stretched out slightly behind her, just barely sticking out underneath that frame. "Betty?" Austin asked, confused. He knew this girl far too well, she did Austin’s job when he wasn’t around, and it wasn’t like he could be at the daycare ALL the time by himself. "It’s your day off, what are you doing here?"
"Day off?" Betty the brown bear asked. She turned to Austin and grinned, rolling those big brown eyes of hers. "You’re a silly little cub. I work here full time! You see me all the time! And where’s that pacifier of yours?" she glanced around him briefly before she shrugged. "Oh well. Your dinner is almost ready, so wait out there with the rest of the little cubs please!"
"Wait...what?" Austin raised a brow. Both him and Betty worked 20 hours a week each, sometimes more or less depending on sick days. "And...pacifier?" That just didn’t sound right. "You mean my binky, right?" he froze at that- his...binky? Did he have one? It felt like part of his mind wrestled at that, of COURSE he had one- but it wasn’t in his mouth, so where was it! He felt like he was ready to cry without it.
At least Austin was ready to cry until Betty popped a pacifier into his mouth rather suddenly, a black one with little plastic mustache sides, a tacky pacifier, but ‘Austin’s’ pacifier nonetheless. "Oh never mind, I found it. Now, are you going to walk back to the other cubs, or do I have to carry you?"
Austin wanted to speak up in protest, he had so many questions on his mind, but when he raised a finger and opened his mouth was the same moment that pacifier, his ‘binky’ as he called it, went into his mouth and silenced him. He suckled on it gently and quietly before nodding, his eyes seemingly large as he did so.
It took him a moment to recall what he was going to do that was so important, but when he remembered, he checked that trash underneath the desk for that card the creature originally gave him- and yet he couldn’t find a thing, as if the card had mysteriously vanished.
Even once he was behind the desk, something asked Austin what he was doing here- he didn’t belong here; he belonged in the play area. Austin turned around and walked directly behind the desk right to that play area with the rest of the ‘cubs’.
There weren’t too many tonight, roughly five cubs, three on a play area in the center of the room, and two others playing on a game system to the side. The play area had other things- small toys in one area, legos in another...before he got too much into detail though, something hit Austin mentally- just what WAS he doing? He spat out that pacifier into his open paw and scratched his head. "What’s..."
Austin paused as his paws rubbed his head. His ears felt...different. He glanced quickly to the left and right. To the side of the play area were three doors almost side by side- one went to a small ‘movie area’ as it was called, one went to the cafeteria through a small hallway, and the other went to the bathroom, only one single one with small seats so children could use it, though it was kept closed so smaller children couldn’t get into it without adult help. Austin went into the bathroom and glanced at himself in the mirror above the lone sink and, sure enough, those ears were pointed instead of rounded- pointed almost like a wolfs own set of ears. "How did...what did..." he said quietly. He touched those ears with one hand, while holding that pacifier with the other. There was something about that pacifier that kept him calm, something he couldn’t quite pinpoint about it. Though there was something else about him- his muscles were less...visible, and his clothing was a bit larger on him, as if he had shrunk a few inches. "Something weird is happening..." he muttered, although his thoughts were cut short by the sound of a ringing triangle. Austin knew all too well what that was- dinner time! Even the employees got to eat at that time. "I’ll talk with Betty again, or SOMEONE else here. Try to figure this stuff out." He told himself before he left that bathroom and went to the cafeteria through the small hallway between the movie area and the bathroom.
The cafeteria wasn’t connected directly to the kitchen; it did have a fire exit in the back, but the only other way out was through the hallway which Austin came in. The cubs were already sitting down at the tables, talking about...well, children things. Austin could never pick up on that, something about ‘crafting blocks’ and ‘mons’ and ‘emotes’ or something along those lines. There were two rows of seats and tables for the children and one larger table on the side for the adults. The chairs for the children were, by no means, friendly for Austin’s posterior. Not that he was fat; he was just...well...too old! He walked over to the adults table with the larger chairs and helped himself to a seat. While the children were waiting, the adults had yet to arrive, leaving him alone at that table.
As Austin sat and waited, two of the employees came in with food- Betty was one of them, and the other? A slim thin catgirl covered in a combination of pink and white fur all over her body- more pink than anything, but with white fingers and a white chest. She had a large chest hidden underneath a white shirt with a bear in a top hat that said "Play Time!" on it, although it looked more frightening letters than not, the cat girl was a bit of an airhead when it came to realizing what she wore- heck she had short black shorts on that exposed a big pink and white striped fluffy tail. She also had big pink eyes and long pink hair. Austin had hit on this cat girl before, but when he described her as an airhead, well, he REALLY meant airhead.
The catgirl, ‘Kitty’ as she was called, set down trays for three children, while Betty set down two others and glanced around briefly with a third tray before rolling her eyes when she saw Austin. Both Kitty and Betty walked over to the adults table and set their own bagged food down, as well as a tray of food right in front of Austin- baby carrots, apples, a chocolate chip cookie, and a small carton of milk.
"Don’t want to sit with the other kids, Austie?" Kitty said in a light tone- her own large chest inches away from Austin’s head as she stood beside him.
"I uh...uh..." Austin wasn’t even sure what to say right now. Was Kitty truly being serious? Maybe she was teasing? No, Kitty wasn’t known to tease, Austin knew Kitty long enough to know that even THAT kind of question, however strange it sounded, was a serious one, even if it would have been a teasing one if it came out of ANYBODY else’s mouth. "N-no. I’m a big boy, I can sit with the big people." He said proudly, not questioning why he just called Kitty and Betty ‘big people.’
"Well, so long as you don’t mind big adult boring talk, you can stay here Austin." Betty said with a giggle and took a seat at one end of the table, while Kitty took the other end, leaving Austin in the center.
"That’s the thing..." Austin said, helping himself to a carrot- well he WAS hungry, even if the food they gave him was generally meant for kids, adults could well eat it, too. "I am an adult. I can do ‘big boring adult talk’ myself, you know." Part of him wanted to mention that he worked here too, but he had to pause briefly...he did work here, didn’t he? He had to, he was an adult, and why ELSE would he be here? "And I...uh...I work here." He added, though he didn’t add confidence.
"Really?" Betty asked. "Well, you do help pick up toys every night before your mommy picks you up, and that’s much appreciated." She leaned back in her chair and rubbed the bottom of her chin with two big paws with black tipped nails as she looked away in thought. "Hehe...we can pay you in candy if you’d like, but you have to pick up ALL the toys, then."
"Aw Betty, little Austie can’t pick up ALL those toys by himself, that’s a little much for someone as young as him. Maybe just all the legos? You know that little alligator guy makes a mess of those." Kitty commented, pulling out, what else, a tuna sandwich and began to munch on it happily. She closed her eyes with a grin on her face and her tail wagged wildly behind her. She was a cat, fish was her thing.
"Yeah! Too much." Austin added, pausing mid-bite. He asked himself, why did he just say that? He...he had another job, didn’t he? He did more than just pick up toys, right? He thought. He thought about what Betty did- preparing children’s meals. Austin wondered briefly if that was something he was supposed to do, but how could he? He didn’t know how to cook- he was too young. Sure his mother let him help bake cookies now and then, but even then, it was just shaping cookies.
Austin then recalled the paperwork- he must have been able to write. The thoughts alone of what he could, and couldn’t do were making him nervous, and when he got too nervous? With that pacifier still in hand, he popped it in his mouth and suckled from it.
"Okay. All the legos, and then the action figures that are next to the legos in that one bin. Sound fair?" Betty asked. She put those large elbows of hers on the table and leaned forward to Austin, that chest of hers right between those arms. As for Kitty, she leaned forward curiously, though her mouth still full of tuna.
Austin briefly thought of something with these two and how...suggestive their leaning in might have been, he could easily see the tops of both of their chests! But...why did that even matter to him? He wasn’t old enough for that kind of stuff! He just shrugged and nodded before he popped out that pacifier and ate his food.
As Austin ate, part of him felt deep in thought, wondering what was happening to him. He swore he could write- unfortunately there wasn’t anything to do that with around here. Perhaps after dinner, he thought to himself he could write up something and show them- that’d have to prove he wasn’t some child here, even if he did enjoy sucking on his binky because of how calm it made him, it was better than that one dog boy that carried around a blanket. He raised his head up to Betty and Kitty and heard them talk to each other about...things. Austin wasn’t sure if it was because he was in thought, or something else, but their words just seemed so uninteresting to him that he just mentally drowned it out. Something about ‘wages’ and ‘hiring’, many words Austin couldn’t mentally understand had he even tried to. He knew he could have beforehand though, something was definitely wrong here- and what’s worse, his muzzle felt larger than before, heck, he went crossed-eyed and he saw a gray muzzle sticking out of his face. He’d have to go back to the bathroom and double check that later.
He also should have probably checked his own height too, he swore he didn’t have to look up to Betty and Kitty as much as he did before, but they were adults, adults were taller than him...right? They must have been.
All these thoughts briefly coming and going as Austin ate until he cleaned his plate...except for the carrots. He could eat a few, but he could never eat all of them. "If you’ll excuse me." Austin pushed out his chair and walked out. He completely forgot about putting his food away, but then again the ‘adults’ could take care of that anyways, he had more pressing concerns. Without even thinking, he stuck the pacifier back into his mouth and suckled as he went back to the bathroom to double check how he looked.
Once Austin got to the bathroom, he closed and locked the door and checked the mirror, his mouth dropped and that binky he had just put in his mouth. His head looked...just wrong to him! It looked more shaped like a wolf’s own with triangular ears and a muzzle sticking out. Sure the fur was still his own color, but the rest of his body looked as wrong. He looked like he was maybe a teenager in appearance, no wonder he had to look up to Betty and Kitty- he was a good few feet shorter than them, his clothes were actually getting a little loose on him- it was a miracle he didn’t have to keep holding his own pants up, though the bottoms of those pants began to drag behind him. He was still an anthro true and true, but he looked far more like a wolf/tiger hybrid than a normal pure tiger. He wondered, if he truly was a wolf and tiger hybrid, then there would have had to have been other details that set them apart besides the fur and muzzle, right? For the life of him though, he couldn’t recall what else was different. He knew SOMETHING else was different, something important that he could just look over himself, but he just...couldn’t figure it out.
Austin had to wonder briefly- he was...he was a tiger, wasn’t he? The longer he stared at himself in the mirror though, and the longer he saw those pointed ears and that muzzle, the more he realized that his own mother was a wolf, a purebred wolf anthro, and one that took care of him. Unfortunately she couldn’t be around him all the time and his father had left him when he was young so he was stuck going to this...
"No! NO NO NO!" Austin shouted at himself. That all just sounded so...so wrong! He worked here, he HAD to have worked there. He tried to remember his age- he was...21 wasn’t he? No, not even he could pass for that, he was...18? He wasn’t quite fully developed, plus he didn’t remember anything about high school...perhaps, he thought...13? 13 sounded about right to him, and this place, this place that took care of children, didn’t accept children older than 12, he was still old enough to take care of himself.
Austin picked up that binky from the sink and looked at himself again, he briefly got lost in thought before those wolf ears of his picked up a knock at the door. "Are you okay Austin? I heard a cry in there." It sounded like Betty checking in on him.
Austin swore that he saw himself shrinking down another few inches when he suckled on that binky in front of the mirror. He glared at himself angrily before turning to the door with his head held high. He made his way to the door handle and reached forward, not even realizing that just a moment ago he had to reach down to open the door rather than forward, and opened the door. "I fine." He said through that binky of his. "Can I have a pen and paper?" he added, looking up at, sure enough, Betty on the other side of that door.
Betty put her hands on her hips and chuckled briefly. "Of course, Austin going to become an amazing awesome author?" she turned around and, with one hand, signaled Austin to follow before she put that hand right back on her hips. She led Austin to the front desk where she pulled out a clean sheet of paper for him, as well as a small crayon box. She handed them over to Austin happily. "Just be careful and don’t draw outside the paper, okay?"
Austin had to think about that for a moment- that ruined his artistic vision! Still, he got that paper and crayons and made his way to a small table located not too far from the toy bin. The other children were just finishing up eating, so Austin had plenty of time to write, but he didn’t really remember WHAT he wanted to write about. He recalled something about working there? But kids his age didn’t work there...he was going to pick up toys, but what did that have to do with writing? He knew he wanted to write something, and it was something important, but for the life of him, he just couldn’t remember WHAT it was. He put a black crayon in one hand and his other hand held his forehead, which he tapped lightly multiple times as he just tried to recall what was so crucial that he needed to write. "It was...it was...ugh!" he was getting tremendously frustrated at this point as he suckled that binky. He knew something was going on with him, something with the world.
It was about then that Austin realized his sleeves were quite large on his body- heck; his feet were inside his own pants by now. "T-that’s it. I used to be older, didn’t I?" He briefly recalled, looking down at his gray wolf paw. But...how old did he used to be? He looked down at that shirt that just looked larger and larger on him by the moment, so large that he could see the top of his gray chest. For a moment he was worried, why was his fur gray? He was a tiger, wasn’t he?
"No no..." he told himself. He liked to play pretend and pretend he WAS a tiger, but he knew better than that- he was a wolf anthro, there was no denying that- the gray fur, the triangle ears, that short muzzle...and some other minor details Austin really didn’t concern himself that much with. He must have worked here though surely, but he couldn’t recall as what, and knowing he used to be older? Well, he started to draw. His penmanship skills were rather lacking, though. He started to draw that I and accidentally drew too far and made it look much more like a ‘j’ "Why don’t crayons have erasers?" Austin asked himself quietly in frustration. Well, it was only one letter. Unfortunately every letter Austin tried writing turned out worse than the last. Rather than write what he wanted to, that being ‘I’m an adult’ it looked more like ‘Jn on aoytl’ written in black crayon with a style just like a child would have wrote it.
Austin had to ask himself, was he really...was he really THAT bad at writing? He must have, children weren’t good with writing. He wasn’t a child though, he was an adult- and he was going to convince those big people that he was! He got out of that chair, that chair meant for children that fit him far too well, and began to ran. Unfortunately he didn’t get far- he tripped over those big pants and fell down with a soft thud onto the carpet, leaving a lot of those pants behind and exposing large orange and black boxers beneath him.
Part of him wanted to cry at that, but he held back those tears- he was a big boy, big boys don’t cry.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunate for him, Betty saw that fall, and she was the first to rush over to him, just as the other children were coming out of the cafeteria too.
"Did little Austin fall down? Poor dear- why did you wear such giant clothes today?" She chuckled and lifted him up taking him out of those pants, but leaving him with that underwear on, as well as a shirt that was just so large that it covered up his underwear to begin with- plus all of his arms and then some. "Well, luckily your mom always brings spare clothes- let’s go change you into them." She actually carried him; he was so small that he was literally being carried by Betty down a hallway that Austin couldn’t even remember- it led into a small room that held children’s belongings in cubbies. Betty set Austin down and pulled out a red container in one cubby that indeed read ‘Austin’ and she set down a white shirt with what looked like a picture of a block head on it with black shorts- they looked far too small for adults, maybe for a child- a very young one. There was also a pair of red shoes and socks, heck it was an entire tiny outfit. "Here you go Austin, go ahead and get changed, I’ll watch the door so you can have your privacy."
Austin was in total disbelief over it all- not just being picked up by Betty so easily, but that he actually had spare clothes and a cubby for them no less! His mind continued to be riddled with questions, but each time he asked, he found an answer. He couldn’t have worked here, it was downright impossible for a child as young as him. But...just how young WAS he, he wondered? He recalled 12, but that just seemed too old. He then wondered, maybe eight? If he was eight, Betty carried him WAY too easily. Maybe he was five years? Even THAT felt wrong, but it didn’t feel that far off- five year olds didn’t have a binky, but at the same time, he also knew that he didn’t have diapers. "Maybe...three..." he said to himself as he undressed, changing himself into those new children’s clothes. Yes, three felt right- too old for diapers, just young enough for a binky...well, okay it was probably a little immature of him to have it, but so long as he wasn’t biting down on it with those tiny teeth of his, it was fine, he remembered his mother telling him as such.
Once he was dressed in those new clothes, he was able to get a good look in a tiny mirror also in that room- an anthro gray wolf looked at him back through that mirror, a very young one, one that Austin was. Gray colored fur covered his body, and his arms and legs were a bit on the thin side. Part of him was worried, but he couldn’t help but wonder...why was that part of him so worried? He wasn’t an adult, he wasn’t a ‘big person’ yet- he was barely a toddler, a toddler that, while he didn’t quite LIVE here, his mother worked long hours and needed to drop him off here often. He enjoyed the daycare and the attention he got from Betty and Kitty- in a friendly manner of course- Kitty’s ignorance often being quite funny.
But one thing he enjoyed most of all, were the children, the children he played with and made friends with. He could hear them all back out from the cafeteria and playing in the play area now, and Austin walked right back to Betty, and together they went right back to those kids.