In brief: From the Secret Origin files of Baby Blue, this is a short look at what Dex, the team’s troubled combat leader, was doing around the time of Operation Baby Blue, and how he met wilderness team leaders Ace and Jax.
Dex, a sensitive raccoon martial artist, is Baby Blue’s third-in-command and combat specialist. He wears diapers out of necessity following a traumatic tournament injury, a secret from all but a few of his friends and a contributing factor to his delayed sexual development. Seen here shortly after Baby Blue co-founders Roger and Rian recruited the depressed coon for their new team and broke him out of his funk.
Ex-Boy Scouts Ace, a tough lynx, and Jax, a gentle tracking hound, are now high-ranking members of Dex’s strike team and leaders of the boys’ wilderness patrols, which keep the woods in Baby Blue territory safe and diaper-friendly. The Boy Scouts began officially dating after the events of The Star Attractions. Most of their teammates didn’t notice any difference.
And now . . .
The lynx tucked his ranger hat under his arm as he made his way through the thinning crowd to the other side of the emptying assembly room.
“Struck out again, Jax,” he started to say. “Next time I’m trying something more rugged-looking. At least we can be miserable togeth—oh!” He stopped short as he saw his friend engaged in animated conversation with an earnest raccoon wearing a black tee-shirt, black jeans, and a black backpack, who was gesturing excitedly.
Jax, a thoughtful tracking hound—Ace’s best friend, who had been riding shotgun with him on their recent exploratory forays into the city’s gay community—tilted his head to one side, and then the other, following the raccoon’s paws with his eyes and sizing him up as he spoke.
“Will you have hikes?” the dog was asking. “Hikes are a good way to meet people. And build a sense of team spirit. Especially for people who don’t like parties.”
“We could! We totally could! We’re very open to ideas. To working with furs’ individual talents. That’s how we’re going to stay one step ahead. The thing you’d need to know going in is that we have . . .” Dex lowered his voice and shadow-boxed at Jax’s arm, then leaned toward the dog confidentially. “Enemies! Dangerous enemies. Some of them could have even been here tonight. You’re lucky, though. None of them know about me yet, and I got to you two first.”
Ace snorted as he broke into the conversation, and jerked his head toward the door. “I thought you got lucky for a minute. Come on, Jax, this guy is either trying to sell you something or he’s just fallen off a turnip truck. There are like fifty gay furry groups around here already. Don’t be the guy dumb enough to join group number fifty-one.”
The black and brown mottled dog, who was wearing a turtleneck and khaki pants, had taken off his Boy Scout sash and slung it, badges facing down, over his shoulder. He held up one paw to interrupt the lynx. “Ace,” he explained patiently, “this is Dex. He’s going around to gay community center events, and he wanted to talk to both of us. Also,” he added, narrowing his eyes and lowering his voice to a stage whisper as he growled out of the corner of his mouth, “He’s standing right here.”
The lynx rolled his eyes. “You want to talk to me too, huh?” he said to Dex.
“Of course,” Dex said, grinning. “I saw you two during the scene play workshop. I liked your costumes. A lot. I think you’d find you can take your interests to an entirely new level. I was kind of surprised you split up to do scenes with other partners, since it’s obvious that you two are . . .” The coon waved one finger in a circle. “You know.”
“Friends?” Ace suggested.
“Good friends,” Jax corrected him.
Dex blinked. “Oh,” the coon said, after a second of confusion, “I get it. You mean you’re friends with . . .”
“Similar backgrounds?” Jax interrupted.
“We have done a lot of the same things,” Ace added in explanation, nodding affirmatively. “Have related interests.”
The coon shook his head and his ears flicked. “Look, never mind what you call it. The point is, probably no one who’s not looking for signs would have noticed, but I heard the two of you crinkle.” The tracking hound’s eyes lowered to his feet and the lynx squeezed his shut as his cheeks turned beet red. Dex, unbothered by their reactions, only pressed ahead, sounding more excited. “Don’t be ashamed! How many weirder things than that did you see people doing up there and talking about and they were all . . . unembarrassed, to put it mildly. But nofur stood up for us. Your private thing can be part of something much, much bigger than the two of you. If you want it to be.” His eyes glimmered. “You aren’t alone. There are more of us than you think. It’s liberating to realize that. To really understand that,” he continued. “I know. You’re just my end of a recruiting operation. My partners are doing very, very dangerous things right now. To take control of the local party scene. That’s not really my thing. But you’re right, Jax. Our leaders see things way beyond parties. They’ve been staking out hideouts. Laying a foundation. They are furs,” Dex concluded importantly, “of vision.” He blushed and looked down at the floor, adding, his voice quivering slightly, “They changed my life.”
Ace looked at his watch. “Yeah,” the lynx said dismissively. “We need to get going.”
Jax frowned at the cat severely. “That was a very heartfelt speech,” he said, turning to Dex and patting the coon on the shoulder. “Where are you going after this, Dex?”
The raccoon reached one paw over his shoulder into the unzipped front compartment of his backpack, pulled out a small memo pad, and blushed as he looked at it. “I was going to go to an—” he looked from one to the other of them and hesitated for a moment. But why not?
He had embarrassed them. Maybe he could put them at ease by treating them as friends. Roger told him to try being more open when he went around to these places, he reminded himself. As a recruiting technique, the dog had said with a wink, for the mission. It’s only the one or two furs you find who accept you that matter, not the ones you find who don’t. We wouldn’t want them anyway.
“A talk about sex—umm. . .” Dex gulped and lowered his voice as he clarified, “Gay sex for beginners, that’s going on at the Lambda Center. That’s not the mission. It’s personal enrichment. You two have probably . . .” He trailed off. “Maybe you can recommend a book or something? I’m kind of, well, not kind of . . . I just am . . .” Dex looked down at his paws for a moment, then back up at Jax cautiously. “A virgin,” he concluded.
“I noticed,” Ace remarked — then winced as Jax rammed an elbow into his side. The dog broke into a broad, reassuring grin.
“You were smart to wait until college, Dex,” the tracking hound said in a brotherly tone. “My parents walked in on my first time. That was a prom night none of us will forget.”
The lynx relented, seeing Dex relax and resume smiling as Jax spoke. “Mine was the last time I’m presenting for anyone, I can tell you that,” Ace added sympathetically.
The tracking hound shook his head amicably. “Can you see this guy on bottom with anyfur, seriously?” he asked, putting one paw on Dex’s shoulder and flicking the other at Ace. “Some furs are the last to realize things about themselves that are obvious to everyone around them. The Lambda Center’s across campus, Dex. Do you want a ride?”
“That would be great,” the raccoon said. “I don’t have a car; I took the bus here.” He looked from one to the other of them. “Which of you should I . . .?”
“Oh, Ace is driving, but we came together,” Jax reassured him.
Dex’s eyes twinkled. “Are you sure it’s okay? I don’t want to screw things up if you two are on a . . . you know,” he waved one paw in a circle again.
“Carpool?” the dog suggested. “Don’t worry, we can fit one more.”
“Yeah, that’s what I was about to say,” Dex muttered out of the side of his muzzle, shaking his head, as he followed the cat and dog out into the darkened parking lot. Ace was fishing for his keys in his pocket and Jax was lifting his nose and sniffing at the air curiously.
“So tell me more about this thing you’re doing, Dex,” Ace said absently as he unlocked his car and opened the driver side door. “I’m not committing to anything but if it involves diapers I’ll admit I’m a little cur—”
The coon’s ears swiveled and his head jerked sideways as a loud shout echoed from the other end of the parking lot. “Sorry. Do you hear that?” he asked, cutting Ace off. “It’s okay if you two can’t wait,” he added, already over his shoulder, as he jogged toward the source of the noise. “We’ll continue this another time!”
Ace blinked and stared after him. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he mused, standing there with the door half-open. “Is that guy nuts? Who even knows how many furs are over there?”
“I do,” Jax remarked, sounding surprised that his partner couldn’t tell. His nose still elevated, the dog sniffed the air carefully. “There are two furs at the edge of the woods, besides him. A mink and . . . a canid, I think. They were both in the scene play groups too.”
“Oh, come on,” Ace snapped. “Your nose cannot seriously be that good.” The lynx took a deep breath. “I have a sinking feeling that if I follow that guy I’m going to spend the rest of my life surrounded by crazy people.”
Jax kept sniffing and tilted his pupils up and back, to look at Ace out of the corner of his eyes in the light spilling out of the car. “I can also tell that you had a Friendly’s peanut butter cup sundae after dinner last night. Mister ‘Oh no, we can’t go out for ice cream on a Saturday night, Jax; what are you, ten years old? We’re in college now so we have to go do some boooooring grown-up thing.’”
“You know what, I’m used to it,” Ace said to himself in resignation, shaking his head and slamming his car door shut as he started after the coon.
By the time they caught up to the raccoon both Ace and Jax’s eyes had begun to adjust to the dark. They could see Dex leaning over a sobbing mink who was on his knees at the edge of the woods, where large exposed swaths of dirt were still muddy from a recent rainstorm. The coon was extending one paw to him holding a broken pair of glasses he had retrieved from the ground. Behind the raccoon, a wolf who had been thrown into a mud puddle was getting unsteadily back to his feet and staggering toward Dex.
“Hey! That’s enough!” Ace shouted. He grabbed the wolf from behind under both arms, wrapping his paws around his shoulders, at the same time that Dex, his ears flicking as he heard the noise behind him, pivoted lightly on one foot and kicked with the other.
Seeing the wolf was held in place, Dex stopped his kick at the last second, just short of connecting with the wolf’s chest, and glared at him over his foot. He still held the mink’s broken glasses loosely in his paw. The lupine’s eyes widened as it sank in that, although it had looked like he would have a clear shot with the coon’s back turned, Dex had been ready for him.
“As my friend just said,” the raccoon said to the wolf calmly as he lowered his foot, “we were finished.”
Dex turned on his heel and back to the mink as though the wolf weren’t worth any more of his time. Ace released the canid and shoved him toward the parking lot. “Scat! Go!” he growled, watching him scramble off warily.
Jax was helping the crying mink up. “I followed him out here but he started talking much dirtier than inside. I told him I wasn’t comfortable with the game any more and I started to leave,” the mink sobbed on Jax. “That’s when he said sub bitches don’t know what they want and I should stop talking, and I shouted when he pushed me. I think he was drunk, I could tell when he kissed me.”
“It’s okay,” the dog was saying, patting his head gently and supporting him with one arm as they stood upright. “What’s your name, little guy?”
“Roddy,” the mink squeaked out.
“Well, let’s get a look at you in the light, Roddy, we can take you home, or to the health center, or to the campus police if we need to,” Jax said, patting his head. “I fursonally think you should make an incident report but we’ll talk about it. We’re not going to force you to do anything, okay?”
Ace clapped a paw on Dex’s shoulder and pulled him aside as Jax soothed the mink. “What’s the big idea, Clark Kent?” Ace whispered, agitated. “Are you trying to get yourself killed? What if that guy had had a knife or something?”
Dex frowned at the prospect as he started trudging back to retrieve his backpack, which he had shrugged off on the way. “Then poor Roddy could have really gotten hurt,” the coon said sadly.
“Look,” Ace jogged after him. “I’m not saying don’t try to help anyone. Just don’t make a habit of running off on us half-cocked like that, okay? Ever heard of the buddy system?”
Dex’s ears perked up as he picked up his backpack and slung it over his shoulders, and he smiled at the lynx.
“Ace and I are great believers in the buddy system,” Jax added over his shoulder as he and the mink, who was starting to calm down, fell in alongside them, the dog’s arm still around Roddy’s waist.
“I could tell,” Dex said, with a laugh, as the four of them made their back toward Ace’s car.
“Oh, you mean from our uniforms?” Ace remarked. “We both were real Boy Scouts, you know. Jax lasted longer than I did.”
The lynx fished out his keys and opened the back door; Jax and Roddy got inside. The dog began examining the mink’s clothes in the light and asking him questions.
“Oh nooo,” the mink whined fearfully. “I wet my pants, too.”
“Don’t worry,” Jax patted him on the head. “We have stuff to clean that up,” the dog said reassuringly.
“Do you still want to go to that talk?” Ace asked as he opened the passenger side door and gestured for Dex to get in. “We can take this from here.”
The coon shook his head. “Nah, my sex life can wait,” he answered as he got inside. “If we can wrap this all up tonight, I’ll see about introducing you two to my friends tomorrow and they’ll tell you more about the group. My friend Rian can explain things better than I can. He’s cool, and he’s the one who’s going to make this lots of fun. You two will really like him.”
“Maybe,” Ace said as he settled into the driver’s seat and fastened his seat belt, pausing for a moment to look across at Dex and flash a grin at the raccoon. “But we’re sticking with you.” He added as he started the ignition, “I mean, I shouldn’t presume to speak for Ja—”
Jax, who was listening to Ace and Dex out of one ear, turned away from Roddy just long enough to second the lynx and bark into the front seat, “We’re sticking with you, Dex.”
“Anyway,” the lynx went on saying to the raccoon, “we can help you. Jax and I have been to most of the bars and community centers around here and some are worth more time than others. I don’t know how much these places are going to help with your personal mission, though. I mean, Jax and I have been to dozens of these mingling things already.”
The mink had fallen silent curled up on the dog’s lap and was sucking on his paw. He seemed relieved not to be the center of everyone’s attention right away, so Jax looked up from him and leaned toward the front seat to weigh in on Ace and Dex’s conversation.
“Yeah dozens,” the dog said. Dex slumped his head back against the seat in disbelief as the tracking hound threw up one paw in frustration and exclaimed, “And neither of us has managed to meet anyone yet!”
Thanks for reading! Comments welcome, whether here, to email@example.com, or via PM. Next big story in the series is in the works but there may be another short first.