“Alex.” The familiar voice called somewhere in the distance.
The cougar groaned as he shifted his body on his sleep.
“Alex, wake up.” The voice called him again, this time closer and more insistent.
“Just five more minutes…” Alex mumbled on his sleep, and then he felt something nudging him hard on the side, as the owner of the voice said:
“Wake up, sleepy head!” Linda sounded annoyed as she said that, and Alex groaned as he got up from the bed.
“Okay, I’m awake! I’m awake!” He said as he stood in the bed. Linda was already up, and she had changed her clothes, as she had obviously bathed while Alex was still asleep. She had now opted for an indigo blouse and a pink skirt, which fit her very well. She looked at the cougar, and she said to him:
“It is nearly 7 o’clock, we need to arrive in there for our interview at 8:30. You need to bath and we both need to eat breakfast so we can get there in time.”
Alex looked at her for a few moments, blinking and wondering what she was talking about, that was when he remembered the job interview that Jeff had provided to them. Alex yawned, a yawn much bigger than he could when he was still human, and a lot toothier too, before he got up from the bed.
“Pronk and Bucky have already gone to the bathroom. I suggest you to go in there and wait for your turn, and take some clothes.” Linda said, and Alex simply nodded as he received some clothes on his arms, as well as his towel and as other few toiletries that he would need to start the day.
He had not yet completely woken up when he saw himself out of the “apartment” and was walking down the hallway in direction to the stairs and to the bathroom. He started to wish that the party of last night had not went till so late.
Their small reunion with Judy, Nick, and their two loud neighbors, had went on for a while, mostly because it seemed that everyone in there seemed to have something to talk about. Judy and Linda had already become good friends during the time they had been in Zootopia, and they seemed to have a lot to talk about. There were also the loud neighbors, who seemed to have a lot to say after they discovered that their new neighbor was the “lightning cougar” himself, that is, after they recovered from the shock (so to speak).
By the way, these two seemed to really be loud, as they seemed to be ready to start a screaming contest for nearly anything.
“You needed to bring so many of my sandwiches?”
“You have too many of them! You will start to get fat if you eat that much!”
“The day is long and is tiring! And you know that I have a high metabolism!”
“So what, we should just barge in the party without being invited and without taking anything to them!? This is just too rude!”
“Ruder than asking through the wall if you could come to the party after eavesdropping about it!?”
“Oh, shut up!”
“No, you shut up!”
“NO, YOU SHUT UP!”
NO, YOU SHUT UP!”
Man, those two truly were quite the figures.
“You have been taking too much time in there! Other mammals might come and want to use it!” A voice said as Alex walked down the stairs.
“I need time to polish my horns! I need to look presentable!” Said another voice, which sounded muffled, as if this one was talking through the other side of a door.
Speaking of the two devils…
“Why do you polish your horns every day!?” Bucky’s voice asked. “It even seem that you are going to a beauty contest! You are going to work behind the counter of a bar!”
“Oh, shut up!” Pronk said, and from that point on they started to scream at each other to “shut up”, as they usually did, and Bucky, who was in the outside, barely noticed Alex approaching him from behind.
At some point, they both resigned in this, and Bucky only stood in there with his arms crossed in front of his chest. It took a few moments for the kudu to notice that Alex was standing right behind him, and he jumped a little in surprise as he noticed the cougar.
“Good morning.” Alex said, still half-asleep and trying to wake up.
“Huhh, good morning…” the mammal with horns said, and he knocked at the door. “Pronk, I really think that you should speed up a little! Someone else just came!”
“Tell them to wait!” Pronk said behind the door.
“It is Hunter!” Bucky said to him. “I really think you should speed up a bit!”
“I’m taking my time! I know that you will be too!” Pronk said. “I don’t care if he is the lightning cougar!”
“Shhh! We promised the bunny girl we would not talk about that aloud!” Bucky said in a rushed tone to his husband in the other end of the door.
Indeed, just the last night, after the two had figured out who Alex and Linda were, Judy had made them both promise that they would keep this as low-profile as they could, which included avoiding to talk about it whenever they were screaming.
Apparently, Judy was worried about their safety, for it seemed that the lion guy, Grooms, was still trying to cause a ruckus about them in the city. Not to mention the presence of reporters and of “everyday wackos”, as Nick had put it. If they found out they had left the hospital and were living in there, the place could be swarmed by them, and this was something that they all wanted to avoid.
In fact, neither Alex nor Linda felt in mood for facing this kind of situation any time soon. So, the two promised to keep it hush-hush.
“Still, I’m not rushing this just because it is Hunter!” Pronk said from behind the door, and Alex could hear the sound of something that sounded like a machine in there, like a portable one.
“Come on, they are new on the building!” Bucky said, now slightly louder, as if to be heard above the buzzing of whatever machine was in there.
“So, what? I’m not going to let them have privileges on the bathroom just because of that!”
“Come on, they have a job interview today! They need to be ready and presentable to get a job!”
“Well, Hunter should have come with his girlfriend earlier to bath!”
“It is not his fault! They stayed up till late yesterday!”
“So did Linda, Hopps and the two of us! And none of us had trouble to wake up this morning! Hopps actually woke up before we all did!”
Alex rolled his eyes at this. It amazed him how no one else seemed to be having problems to wake up in that morning, considering that most of them had stayed up until past midnight chatting and watching the movies that Nick provided through “FurFlix”. Namely: “Rocky Bearboa” and “The Hibernant”, this later one starred by “Leonardo Dicapolar”.
Both Alex and Linda had already gotten used to the kind of things that they saw in Zootopia. The two movies actually were both pretty good.
“I can’t believe you guys never saw Rocky Bearboa!” Was what Nick had said when they mentioned that they never watched that movie. “I mean; it is a classic! Which planet did you two came from?”
Alex would have bitten his tongue to avoid answering that, but he was afraid that he would hurt it with his sharp teeth.
It took five more minutes, but soon Pronk came out of the bathroom, only for Bucky to enter right after him. They shared a very brief compliment, and Pronk went on is way. More ten minutes, and Bucky also got out, finally letting Alex use the bathroom, something for which the cougar felt really glad.
Alex let the cold water soak his body and shock him awake. He used his time to scrub his body and make a lot of foam with the shampoo. He took his time to dry himself up and to put on his fresh clothing, consisting into a pair of cream pants and a social shirt of blue coloration. Alex had already gotten used to walking barefoot, as well as walking with the crutch. Next, he brushed his teeth with his new toothbrush, and he also brushed his fur a bit, taking a lot of fur from his body. He was said that it was normal for felines to let fur go like that, and that was one of the reasons why they usually got hairballs. Alex was not willing to go through this experience.
Finally, he got out of the bathroom and saw a line of other tenants in there. Some small as a mouse and others surprisingly big. Alex simply gave them a brief “good day”, and walked back to his apartment, and he meet Linda in there, who had just finished fixing some breakfast (she picked the food that they had bought and heated it in the microwave). As soon as Alex came in, his own food was waiting for him, and it was some nice fish that Linda had bought.
During the breakfast, the two mammals put themselves to talk.
“So, the store is not very far from here, we can go and come back walking.” Linda said, and Alex nodded:
“Very nice.” He ate another forkful of the fish. “Do you think we need to work in there all formal? Or that there is a uniform?”
“Well, I’m not sure, I mean, the place is a pet shop…”
The two human-turned-animals were still trying to wrap their minds around the notion of a pet shop in a world dominated by talking animals.
“They have uniforms in there!” Bucky’s voice said from the other side of the wall. “They wear green clothing with white aprons, because they have to bath and groom the pets.”
The two mammals looked at the wall, and they shared a look among themselves.
“So, this place, the Groomed Feathers & Polished Scales, what kinds of pets they care for?” Linda asked
“Oh, all kinds! Iguanas, geckos, some of those tarantulas, chameleons, parrots, cockatoos! You name it they have it!” Bucky said, “I would love to have a cockatoo!”
“But you won’t!”
“Oh, shut up!”
“No, you shut up!”
“No, you shut up!”
As they continued on, Linda and Alex turned to each other and they seemed to be starting to get a grip on how things worked in there…
“So, Hunter and Thompson are really your neighbors now?” Bogo asked to Hopps, who was standing in the chair right in front of his desk, while the much bigger mammal was sitting in front of her on his own chair, and she had just put him in pair of all that they had went through since yesterday.
“Yessir.” She said to him. “They are now both residents of the Grand Pangolin Arms. It seems that Small has gotten new homes for them and for himself, and he even found them a job interview. The pet shop Groomed Feathers & Polished Scales, just a few blocks away from the building. They are probably heading there now.”
Bogo looked at her with a raised eyebrow, and he could already start to list his own worries about this whole situation. Starting with the fact that many mammals around the city were still on their toes about the Meta Mammals, and while not many of them were like Grooms (at least not openly), others of them bordered on creepy, as they seemed to have far too much interest into the meta mammals, that not to mention the amount of reporters that still searched for the chance of having an exclusive interview with them.
Bogo was having certain pickles with it, and he really wished that he had at least been informed before they decided to leave the hospital on their own. He had only found about that himself when he made a call to the doctor and he was informed that they had moved. Needless to say, he was not happy that such a decision was made without him being informed on the matter.
But then again, the meta mammals were still free to come and go, and there was nothing that he could do about that…
Save for managing the situation.
“Does anyone knows where they are?” Bogo asked.
“For now, only doctor Moosard, Officer Wilde, me, and my neighbors, the Oryx-Antlersons.” Judy said, “And they have agreed to keep it quiet to avoid calling unwanted attention to them.”
“Well, that is good.” Bogo said, “The last thing we want is this turning into a circus. We really need to keep their current whereabouts secret for now, at least until the craze have calmed down.”
Judy took a moment to think, and she said: “Sir, I’m not sure that this is going to happen anytime soon.”
She was right, and Bogo knew that. After all, the world had just discovered that there were mammals out there that possessed super powers. There were all kinds of reactions going on, not only on Zootopia, but in all the neighborhood of the place. Some were thrilled. Some were more than thrilled. Some were scared. Some mammals out there were actually going ballistic over all of that. The world changed in the moment that Alex Hunter had decided to use his powers in public, and there was little to no chance of the world going back to what it once was.
The craze was going to go on for a good time, and of that much Bogo was sure.
“Let’s… just keep this information as secret as we can. Let’s save these two from more attention than they are already receiving. They really need a time for themselves.” Bogo said, and Judy had to agree with him. These two had been through a lot lately, and they deserved a break, she was not sure how she would feel herself if she was in their place, but she knew that she would not feel so comfortable knowing that so many mammals had interest in her like that…
“By the way, what about Small?” Bogo asked to Judy, and she looked up at her boss as she said:
“By what they told me, he found himself a home too. Somewhere in Little Rodentia…”
As Judy and Bogo were saying it, somewhere in the downtown part of Little Rodentia, in a diminutive version of a three store building, there was a particular apartment that was being occupied by a mouse.
Jeff had just come out of the bathroom as he used three towels to dry his body, wanting to avoid any kind of fungus infection coming from having water and moist accumulating into his pelt. He read about that in some sites, and he didn’t want to face this kind of situation in his new state as a mouse.
The house he found for himself was a humble one, with only three rooms, which included a living room/dining room/kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom. It was clearly old, and the paint in the walls was coming off, and the wood floor ringed each time that he stepped on it. It was far from what he would want as his first option on a new home but, according to his current plan to make a living, it was going to do for now.
Drying himself, Jeff walked to the living room, on his bare fur, as he picked the clothing that he had chosen to wear on this day. A green t-shirt, a pair of mouse-sized jeans pants with a belt made out of synthetic material. As he dressed, Jeff looked himself in his own reflection through the window, and he made sure that he looked okay and groomed. After all, it was his first day on his new job. Okay, technically it was still his interview, but he was sure that he was going to have a good day none the less, years had helped him to develop social skills that he lacked when he was younger, and he already observed that they still worked in Zootopia.
Looking at himself and clicking his tongue while making guns with his hands, he smiled and walked in direction to the door.
“So, they are all out in the city.” Bogo said, and Judy looked at him. “Well, I guess that was to be expected.” He looked at Hopps. “Since you now live very close to them, I guess I can trust you to keep them out of harm’s way.”
“You sure can, sir.” Judy said, and Bogo nodded.
“This is all, Hopps. Go back to work.” He said simply, dismissing her, and Judy just nodded at her boss and walked out of the door. After closing it, Bogo sighed, and he walked back to his desk, picking up his cell phone and once more fishing that hidden number in his desk.
A quick dialing, and soon he was hearing the sound of the phone calling.
“Savage talking.” The voice on the other end said.
Bogo wondered what he should say, and after a while, he just asked:
“I assume that you already know that Hunter and Thompson had moved out of the hospital. As well as Small.”
“Oh, Bogo! Nice to talk to you. And yes, I do know that already.” Savage said, and this only confirmed that Bogo already suspected.
“You have someone following them, don’t you?” He asked, and the mammal on the other end answered:
“I already told you that I have some guys in the city. Also, you probably already know that I have my own way of getting information.” Was the answer coming from Savage, and Bogo scoffed.
“If that is the case, why you want me to keep you informed?” Bogo asked him, “I mean, since you have some many ways of getting intel, I guess you wouldn’t need a simple police chief like me to give it to you.”
“Don’t underestimate yourself, my dear Bogo.” Savage said to him, “You are more useful than you might think. Not only you give me information, but you will also be my contact in this whole situation. You can keep close to Hunter and his friends, especially with this new connection that they have developed with a few of your subordinates.”
Bogo tensed a bit as Savage said that. Yes, he had noticed that Wilde and Hopps had both became friends with Hunter and Thompson. The two meta mammals seemed to have developed trust and friendship with his two officers. Bogo himself had to admit that something like that was actually quite good in the current situation.
“Also, with the whole thing of the meta mammals having become public knowledge, I need someone on the public to manage and possibly apprehend some dangerous meta mammals, if they ever appear.”
“Can’t you and your ‘crew’ do that?” Bogo asked to him.
“We don’t exist, Bogo.” Was Savage’s answer. “So, we can’t go and arrest meta mammals. At least, not officially.”
Bogo heard what he said, and he took a moment to stop and think as something came into his mind.
“Yesterday we apprehended a meta mammal. A polar bear who could turn into brass.” Bogo said, “He was being transported to the hospital when the ambulance was attacked. There was no one hurt, but the polar bear was gone, took by another vehicle.”
There was a silence following these words, and after a while, Bogo asked:
“Did you had anything to do with that?”
Another silence, and after a while, Savage said: “We both want the same thing, Bogo. Please, try to remember that.” His answer was simple, but it completely avoided the question, but to Bogo, it actually answered the question that he made. “Let’s continue with the business. My people will continue to keep an eye for things, and I suggest you to do the same. I’ll keep on touch.”
With that, Savage hung the phone, and Bogo didn’t even had time to formulate an answer as the line dropped, and he was left without way to answer to what the mammal on the other end had said to him.
Bogo snorted in annoyance as Savage had done that again. In the past weeks, he had been having more contact with Savage than he had in nearly a decade, since he had his first contact with him and with the kind of world that he lived in. He still hated a lot of things that Savaged did, and this thing of simply hanging the phone like that was one of them. He was starting to notice that Savage did that when he wanted a conversation to end because it was making him uncomfortable or because he wanted to avoid more talk.
Bogo leaned back on his chair and he sighed as he pinched the bridge of his snout. Everything about Savage was a mystery to him, even his species was something that Bogo was able to only guess. Still, Bogo often saw himself trusting him and doing what he told him to do, because doing that has already proved to be a smart thing since the beginning. Still, he sometimes wondered just why he would do the things that the mammal told him just like that.
He stood in there for a while, thinking about what Savage had told him. He surely had someone in the city, and they were watching the meta mammals. Well, if that was the case…
Reaching for his intercom, and he pressed it.
The thing buzzed to life, and Bogo talked in it:
“Clawhauser, call Wolfard and Fangmeyer to my office, now.”
Linda and Alex both were walking down the street, both with their regular “inconspicuous” attires (Linda’s sunglasses and handkerchief; and Alex’s jacket, they were still amazed how well these things worked…), and they were walking in direction to their interview. They took a few minutes of walking, and they eventually arrived in the place they were going to.
They just had to follow the Treetop Street until the met the Herd Avenue, and they just had to walk by it until they were able to sight the place. It was an establishment that looked to be a good pet shop. The place had a soft coloration in the front, and it had the letterings in the front that said: “<strong>GROOMED FEATHERS & POLISHED SCALES: the place for your pet</strong>”. The vitrine of the place was wide and big, and it was possible to see a part of the place from there.
They entered the place, and they could see the place from the inside, and they could see all that most would expect to see into a pet store, which included collars and leashes, as well as some cans and bottles that were labelled as things like “<strong>lizard chow</strong>” or “<strong>bird delight</strong>” and there was no doubt that it was food for pets.
Talking about pets, there were some in there, along with their owners. There was a teenage hippo carrying an iguana on his lap, this iguana was wearing a red collar in the neck, and looked the way that iguanas usually looked when in their owner’s hands. Next to him, there was an adult deer who had two parrots and one macaw on his antlers, all of them standing in there as if they were standing in branches, and the deer, as if not even acknowledging them was reading a magazine. On his lap, there was a can with something, and he would occasionally pick up something from there and offer to the birds on his antlers, and the birds would eat it gladly.
There were also mammals working in there, and all of them wore uniforms like Bucky had described. They were walking back and forth, and they were tending to some business, like organizing the store, and also taking care of a few pets, like a nearby badger who was feeding a canary, and an antelope that was clipping the claws of another iguana.
They both looked around, and soon, someone came to greet them, it was a young and jovial cheetah who smiled at them, as she said:
“Hello! Welcome to the Groomed Feathers & Polished Scales, where the happiness of you and your pet come in first place! How may I help you?” She was very friendly as she spoke that, and Linda was the one who spoke first:
“Hmm, yes, indeed, we are in here to see… Lambert. It is about jobs for both of us.” She said, and the cheetah looked at her.
“Oh, you are the two who came for the job!” She said, “Please, wait here, I’ll go get him.” She turned around and left, and the two mammals were left to observe the mammals around them and the pets that they brought.
They saw a teenage beaver with a punk style and the fur on his head dyed black, and he was carrying a glass container that had a tarantula on it. As well as an old rhino lady who came in carrying a two-legged, ostrich-like bird in her arms, and it was looking around, as if to see the place to where it had been brought. Right after her, came a bunny who had a gecko standing on his shoulder.
These observations were enough for the two mammals to understand better how the “pet” thing worked in there. By what it seemed, only mammals could talk in this world, and the other kinds of animals remained primitive and feral, that meant reptiles and birds. So, it was no strange that some of these animals had been made into pets, much like humans in their world would make cats and dogs as their pets.
It actually made sense…
After a while, the cheetah came back, and with her was coming a ram with the same uniform. This uniform seemed to be a bit puffy on his body, and the parts on his body that were exposed (head, neck and arms) allowed to see that he had as good deal of wool on his body, maybe that was what giving the uniform that puffy appearance. His eyes had horizontal-lined irises, and they both focused on the two mammals as he approached.
“Oh, so you two are here!” Lambert told them, and he looked at the watch on his wrist. “And right on time too! You scored some point on this.” He said as he looked at the two mammals, and he told them: “Please, follow me.” He turned around and gestured for the two animals to follow him, and they took a moment to do that.
The ram, Lambert, lead them to his office, and he closed the door behind them.
“Please, take a seat.” He said, gesturing to the chairs, and the two mammals took a minute before they sat on the chairs in front of the desk, and Lambert was soon walking around the desk and sitting on his own table.
“So, let’s start this.” He said as he simply sat and looked at the two mammals. “So, do any of you have some experience with pets?”
The two animals shared a look. Well, Alex had a pet when he was younger, it was Mr. Whiskers, his family’s Persian cat, but Alex had a feeling that this was not the kind of experience that he could mention in there. Linda was the one who spoke:
“Well, I had a canary and a golden fish while growing up.”
Lambert nodded, “So, no previous experience on grooming pets?”
Lambert nodded, and he looked as if he was thinking. “I see, well, you can always learn.” He said, “So, you guys like reptiles and birds, right?”
“Oh yes, I really love birds.” Linda said, “I loved my little canary.”
“I’m a fan of reptiles, actually, I mean, except the ones that could eat me… and snakes.” Alex said, “But only the poisonous ones, I can take care of the smaller ones.”
“Well, you won’t have to worry about that.” Lambert said, “Here in Zootopia, snakes are forbidden as pets, as well as birds of prey and any predatory reptile that cannot be feed on insects.” He explained, “I mean, we wouldn’t like someone’s pet to go around eating someone else, right?”
“Yeah, makes sense.” Alex said.
The rest of the interview was routine questions, and after these questions were done, Lambert looked them, and he said:
“Yes, you two seem to actually be good mammals.” He spoke, “So, I’ll accept you two in here for a week to see how you two do. If you do okay, then I’ll hire you.”
Both mammals looked at him, and they could not hide their surprise.
“I mean, like that? Without checking or references or anything? I mean, you haven’t even asked your names!” Linda said, and the sheep smiled.
“Well, truth to be told, I already have your names. Small gave them to me when I agreed to receive both of you for an interview. He also told me about you two being the meta mammals, and that you two are dating.”
This once more surprised both mammals, who looked at the sheep. Lambert looked at them before speaking:
“Look, I don’t judge others, and I particularly don’t care about you two having super powers or not, even though I think it’s pretty cool.” He smiled as he said that, “So, I’m willing to give you two a chance at working in here. I just ask you to avoid using your powers in here to avoid calling attention, and keeping affections out of the work place. Can you guys do that?”
Both animals took a moment, and they nodded.
“Great!” Lambert said as he smiled and clasped his two hooved hands together. “So, you will be starting your training in the job today, just search for Layla, the cheetah who you talked to in the front. I have two spare uniforms ready for both of you. They are most of a general size, so they might be a little snug or a little loose, but they will do for now. If you two stay with your jobs after the week then we will provide uniforms of a more fitting size. You can go to the back to change.”
He said, and the two animals took a second to do as he said and they both moved out of the room and in direction to the back of the store. In there, they found some dressing cabinets, with two pieces of uniform separated for them in two chairs. Alex got a “medium feline size” pair of pants and t-shirt of green coloration and a matching apron. Linda found herself a pair of shirt and skirt of the same coloration and with an apron that was about the same as Alex’s.
Soon, the two mammals picked their clothing and entering in the booths that were right to the side of one another, as they started to change clothes.
“That went better than expected, right?” Linda asked while she undressed.
“Yeah, I’ll say.” Alex said, “But, it is not a little strange the guy having hired to someone who has no experience and no references?” He asked to her while he removed his shirt and unzipped his jeans pants, being careful with his bad leg. “I mean; most people don’t do that… I think...”
“Well, maybe he is a nice guy.” Linda defended. “I guess there are some mammals who are complete jerks and others who are very nice people. Just like back home.”
“Maybe…” Alex said, “Not many of the mammals who we met until now have been neutral in relation to our powers.”
“What, you preferred that he was a no-power supremacist, or maybe a crazy fanboy?”
“No, I’m just saying that it caught me a bit off guard.” Alex said as he slipped his legs, one at a time (and again, careful with the wounded leg) into the uniform pants that had been provided to him. “Anyway, I’m kind of glad that he knows and is not making a big thing out of that.”
“Yeah, it seems that Jeff picked a good job for us.” Linda said as she put the shirt that was provided to her. As she had found out, putting clothes that went above her head had proven to be a challenge now, with her new horns, what made her prefer the ones that had buttons and she could just slide her arms in and close them on the front or the back.
There was a brief pause, as Alex put himself to think. “Do you think that Jeff actually picked up someone who would not care about our powers?”
Linda too stopped, and she thought about that, and she found herself gravitating towards certain answer:
“This… is actually possible.”
The two mammals soon finished changing, and coming out, they were both dressed and ready to start their “week of experience”.
“Man, the sheep was right, this thing is a little tight in the back.” Alex said, turning around, and seeing that the pants were a little thigh in his rear, hugging them as they almost clung to his fur. “If it were tighter than that it would give me a wedgie.”
Linda looked, and she smiled, “You know, I kind of like it.” She said to him, and the smile on her face made it clear to him why she liked. Alex felt himself blushing under his fur, and he could also sense his ears heating up, as they had done a lot every time that he blushed.
“W-we said we would keep affection away from the work place.” Alex said, looking away as if to hide his blush, Linda chuckled.
“You are so adorable when you are all blushy.” She said to him, and Alex only blushed more. Linda loved to tease him like that from time to time, and while Alex not exactly liked it, it was not a bad experience either.
“L-lets meet our coworkers now, right?” He said and soon they both were walking from the back of the store, meanwhile, they were making a conversation:
“Nice of Jeff having found us a job like that.” Linda said as they walked. “He also said that he was going to find himself one, right?”
Indeed, Alex remembered, during their talk on MuzzleTime in the previous day, Jeff had indeed told them that he had found a job interview for himself, and that he was going for that in the morning.
“Yeah, I wonder what he found himself to do.” Alex asked.
“Knowing Jeff… nearly anything.” Linda said as they walked out of the dressing area and into the store.
In Little Rodentia, Jeff found himself in the place where he planned on taking his first attempt at getting a job. Sure, while Linda and Alex got one interview into a pet shop, Jeff himself tried something a little different.
He was currently into the waiting room of an office, and it looked to be like the kind of place in which rich and important people would come. In fact, the very room was in one of the stores of a building that, in Little Rodentia, was the equivalent to a medium-sized skyscraper. The place looked like some respected business place, as it was to be guessed by the appearance of the place, with several windows of reflective glass, which made the place seem to be made of glass. If that wasn’t enough, you just had to take a look into the many rodents with expensive suits and their own briefcases walking in and out of the building, all of them seemed like they had important places to go and things to do.
In fact, it would look like any other business building that one would expect to find in the Human World, well, except for the fact that it was full of rodents, and it was a miniature version… and that it had hamster trails on the side that connected it to another close building that was of the same company.
Jeff just continued to sit in the chair of the waiting room while he looked around. The room itself was nice, and it was indeed a version of a very good office made for rodents. The walls were of a shade of blue, and there were two or three vases which contained a variation of weed that served as plant and decoration. It had to be a small one, since bigger plants would surely take too much space into a room made for mice.
Also, Jeff paid attention to the ones that were in that room with him.
There was another mouse, a chipmunk and a hamster. The hamster and mouse were both dressed into fine suits, and they clearly were there for an important meeting where they would find some good job, matching their apparent experience and skills. The chipmunk, however, was dressed in more casual clothes, and he looked as if he was in there for some job of less glamour, maybe serving coffee…
They all sat on their tables as they waited. The hamster was sitting by himself and he was simply tapping his briefcase, which he held on his lap. The mouse was reading a book as he waited, it was small and it looked like the thing that a mouse could carry in the pocket without problems. The chipmunk, on his end, looked as if he was playing some game on his cellphone.
Jeff too was doing something to pass his time: he was watching intently each one of them.
“Mr. Small?” The receptionist called, and she was a mole who wore giant lenses for glasses in her face. Jeff raised his hand upon having his name called, and she said: “Ms. Mizell will be seeing you now.”
Jeffrey smiled as he got up, and he walked across the door and into the office of Ms. Mizell. The place was good and it looked fancy, with grey walls and with a big and open-concept window of glass panels on the back. In her desk, was Ms. Mizell. She was an Apodemus Sylvaticus, a wood mouse. The fur that Jeffrey could see on her head was of a brown coloration, and her eyes were of a black coloration, as it was common for many rodents. She was wearing a blue suit on her, and Jeffrey could see that she was finishing with a few papers as he walked in and came closer.
“Hello.” Jeffrey said, “I’m Jeffrey Small, and I’m here for a job.” He said simply, and she stopped for a moment to look up at him, with a raised brow. Jeff simply gave her a friendly smile, and she gestured to the empty chair in front of her.
“Please, take a seat.”
“Thank you.” Jeffrey said as he sat on the chair. She continued to check on the papers for a while, and Jeffrey just stood in there and looked at her as she continued with this, almost as if she was purposely ignoring Jeff.
After almost one minute, she finally finished these papers, and sighed as she put them on a pile to the side.
“Rough week?” Jeff asked.
“Yeah, things had been rough for a while.” She said to him as she relaxed. “The city has been crazy ever since these mammals with super powers appeared.”
Jeff simply nodded, and said nothing.
She sat straight in her chair and looked at the mouse standing in front of her. “So, Mr. Small, I understand that you want a job in our company.”
“Yes, that is correct.” Jeffrey said.
“So, what kind of job would you be searching for?”
“Pretty much anything.” Jeff said casually.
She looked at him, and said: “Excuse me?”
“Yeah, you see, I’m after a new job so I can pay my rent, since I just got a new apartment and I know nearly no one in this city. So, if you have a job that I can do and that will give me a paycheck, I’ll take it. I can be a janitor, a secretary, an office mouse, an accountant, a manager, a vice-president, if you got, I can do it. I’m definitely not picky.” He finished with a smile on his face.
She looked at him surprised, and after a moment, she was able to recompose and clear her throat. “Well, Mr. Small, I have to say that I admire your… sincerity.” She spoke, and looked at him. “Now, if you let me take a look at your resume.”
“Oh, I don’t have one.” Jeff said.
She looked at him for a few moments. “You forgot to bring one?”
“On, I just don’t have one.” Jeff said, “You see, this actually be my first real job in a few years.”
She stared at him for a few moments, and she asked:
“Do you have any references?”
“No, sorry.” Jeff said, shrugging.
She looked at him for a few moments. “So, you have no resume and no references…”
“Yeah, that is right.” Jeff said, “Now, I know that it kind of sounds like a red flag of shorts, but I can assure you that I’m a good employer, and I can make most jobs efficiently.” He said to her, and she only looked back at him, and her expression was not amused.
“Thank you for your time, Mr. Small, you can leave your phone for contact on your way out. You have a phone contact, don’t you?” She asked him, and she was about to press the button on her desk to contact her secretary, when Jeff said:
“Those papers are for a contract with an insurance company, aren’t they?”
She stopped and looked at Jeffrey. “Yes, why?”
“Can I give them a look?” He asked, and she only looked at him for a moment. “What, you are not really thinking on accepting them anyway, right? So what is the problem of me looking?”
She continued to look at him, and finally picked a few of the papers for him to give it a look. She handed him the contracts, and he started to read it. Actually, he just scanned each paper for about ten to fifteen seconds, and then put them aside, one by one.
“Well, these are interesting papers.” Jeff said, and he looked up at her. “They have special paragraphs that include covering for ‘event with powered mammals’. I thought it would take longer before they would do it.”
“Yeah, just some wackos who want to find something else to charge for.” Mizell said to Jeffrey, and the mouse looked up at her.
“Maybe you should keep them on standby instead of just throwing them out of the window.” He said, and she raised an eyebrow again.
“I mean, you have heard of the bank, haven’t you?” Jeffrey asked to her.
“Furs National Bank, yes.” She said to him. “The cougar and a rhino left the place looking like a natural disaster.”
“And the company that made the insurance of the building in case of damage now is refusing to pay for the damages.”
“What?” Mizell said as she sat straight on her chair, and Jeff continued:
“Yes. They claim that the insurance predicted damage caused by accidents or by natural events. They are claiming that they can’t pay once the damage was all caused by only two mammals who held no weapons and no heavy machinery that would classify ‘accident’, like, let’s say, driving a truck right inside the bank.” He continued to look at the papers. “They are claiming that due to the circumstances of the event there are no reasons for them to pay the damage. They are currently arguing in the justice over that.”
She looked at him surprised, and Jeff looked up at her.
“Well, I think that this might really be an attempt to make money, after all, that is what all insurance companies are about. They get your money and promise to pay you back in the case of something happen. In many cases, they try to find reasons to not pay you anything and just leave you hanging with your problems. They bureaucracy is most for that, anyways.” He said, putting the last paper aside when he finished. “Still, the idea of someone paying to help you in case of a problem is nice, and in many occasions they have no other choice but to pay you. So, if you sign this, in the possibility that one day a mammal with super powers causes damage to your building they would be forced to pay.”
Jeff looked up at her, and she continued: “I don’t know how things will go in the near future, but considering everything, and considering how the world seems to be changing, I guess that would should keep them on standby for now. See how things go with the thing of the bank vs. the company insurance, and see how things stay in the campus of mammals with super powers here in Zootopia. Later, you can decide if you will accept or refuse them.”
She looked at him, and after a while, Jeff finally said:
“As you probably noticed, I pay attention to things and I am efficient in making connections.” Jeffrey said, “I also speak 22 languages, I’m really good at math, I’m naturally inquisitive and with a predisposition to search for answers and information.” He said to her, “I’m pretty sure that you believe that there are several other options out there that might be much more reliable than a strange mouse without references or resume, and you are probably right. However, I’m just asking you to give me a chance to prove myself to you. I can do nearly any task that you give me, just name it.” He said, and the female mouse looked at him for a few moments, and she seemed as if she was musing on something. It took a while before she spoke anything again.
“I see… well, I guess that we can find something...” She said, and she pressed the button. “Molly, please, call Mrs. Chinchilla and tell her that we have someone in here for her.”
“So, I have a job?” Jeff asked, his expression positive but not edgy in any way.
Mizell looked at him for a few moments, and she said, “You will be in a period of experience. If you prove to be competent, then we might consider a position for you in our company.” She said, and Jeff smiled.
“That is good.” He said, and the female wood mouse nodded at him, as she picked up the papers that Jeff had taken a look into, and she looked as if she was looking through them again, and with a thoughtful expression…
“You want us to follow Hunter and Thompson?” Wolfard, the wolf, asked to the cape buffalo, and Bogo said:
“Yes, I want you two to keep watch over them on this new job of them.” He spoke to the two officers in front of him as he said that. “And also on their new home in Grand Pangolin Arms.”
“Wait, ain’t that where Hopps lives?” The tiger, Fangmeyer, spoke as she looked at her chief. “Wouldn’t it be better if Hopps herself would watch them, in that case?”
“I’m telling you two to do it.” Bogo said firmly, making it clear that it was not up to discussion, still, the two animals who he was talking to could not avoid sharing a look among themselves.
“Hmmm, sir?” Wolfard asked, and Bogo looked at him. “Why should we go watch Hunter and Thompson?” he asked to the bovine in front of him. “I mean, you think they can do something illegal, or something of the like?”
Bogo looked at him, and back at Fangmeyer, and he knew that she was thinking pretty much the same thing. He knew that he could not tell two officers to go watch someone without a good reason, even because then it would be stalking, and it would be illegal. Still, he looked at the two of them as he gave to them an explanation.
“I’m quite worried with the fact that they are out of the hospital.” He said to the two officers. “While they were in there, they would be under constant watch and protection. However, now that they have moved out, I’m worried about their safety.”
“Their… safety?” Wolford asked again, as he and his partner shared a look.
“Yes, their safety.” Bogo said, as he looked back at his two officers. “’I am pretty sure that you two remember Mr. Grooms.”
“Big lion. Kind of rude. Saying that Hunter and the others like him were dangerous and should be the ones locked up instead?” Fangmeyer said. She did remember that lion, and she remembered that he was one hell of a struggler, and that the subject of Hunter and other meta mammals was one about which he would not shut up.
“Yes, his behavior is concerning, as well as the fact that could be other mammals like him around. These would not hesitate in attempting to harm Hunter and Thompson if they had the chance.” Bogo said as he walked around, “Not to mention other kinds of mammals who could use this chance to approach them, like one of those wackos that claim to be their fans, or these damned vultures of the media. If they find out that they have left the hospital and where their home currently is, well, the situation could get out of hand pretty quickly.”
The two mammals looked at the chief as he spoke that, and the cape buffalo would finally stop walking and look straight t each of them. “I want to make sure that they are both under watch, so they are not in immediate danger, as well as anyone near them. That is why I’m designing you two to watch over them.”
The animals shared a look.
“You two have already made several stakeouts before.” Bogo continued, “From all of my officers, you two are the ones who have the most experience in it, especially when you are working together. Also, I do know that you two are both very good in being discrete, as you demonstrate constantly in the workplace.” Bogo said, and this last comment made the two mammals look down as they blushed slightly.
“I’m assigning you to this job because you can follow them without being noticed neither by them nor by anyone else. Also, I want you two to keep it quiet and discrete, because we cannot risk the location of their new home being disclosed just yet. In fact, no one outside of this office will even know what you two will be doing.”
“Not even Hopps?” Fangmeyer asked. “I mean; it will be her building that we will be watching.
“Not even Hopps.” Bogo confirmed. “This is only between the three of us, and no one else. Everything regarding this is sensitive information.”
The two mammals shared a look among them, and they both nodded as they said: “Yes, Chief.”
“Good.” Bogo said, “You two will start right away. You already know how to do stakeouts, so I do believe that I don’t have to tell you what to do in this situation. If anything important happens, you will report to me in the following day. That is all, dismissed.”
With that, the two mammals made their way out of the Chief’s office, leaving Bogo alone with his thoughts.
After a few moments, Bogo sighed as he dropped heavily in his chair, and he was pinching the bridge of his snout.
He had not lied to the two about his worries about them being out of the hospital. However, he had omitted to them information about the main reason why he wanted them to keep watch over them…
“Dammit, Savage.” Bogo said to himself, “You can get under my hide even when you don’t try.”
Outside, the two mammals were walking in direction to the first place they needed to go in order to do their new assigned job. They waited until there was no one around to hear them before they started to talk.
“This assignment is a bit strange, don’t you think?” Fangmeyer asked to her wolf partner.
“Yeah, I’ll say. Watching over two mammals with super powers as they go with their day? Sounds like the kind of thing that you would ask for a private eye or some other mammal of the like.”
“And that think of being ‘worried with their safety’?” She asked him again. “This is not like something that the Chief would just say like that. Something is up.”
There was a brief silence, before Wolfard said again: “Well, anyway, the Chief gave us a job and now we must do it.”
She nodded at the wolf, and she said, “Well, I guess this means that we can forget that lunch that we planned.”
Wolfard looked up at her, and he smiled, “Don’t worry, babe, I’ll make it up to you, I promise.” He said to her, winking, and she smiled back at him. He was about to try to hold her paw, when she pulled it away.
“Ah-ah.” She said to him. “Security cameras, remember?” She asked him, and he nodded. He had forgot for a moment.
“I always forget.”
“You would forget your tail somewhere is it was not attached to your butt.” She smiled to him as she said that, and the wolf was able to chuckle a bit. “I really hope you keep this promise though. I was looking forward to this lunch.” She said with a smile that was (would one dare to say) seductive (?).
The two mammals continued to walk their way, seemingly without any contact with each other. That is, unless you counted as contact the fact that, as they moved, their tails would occasionally touch each other and tangle for just a moment before separating again…