The Courtship of Alexis Hawkins
02 The Aftermath
»-(¯`·.·´¯)->August 5, 2013<-(¯`·.·´¯)-«
Stephen Archer sat at his desk while he watched the news feed on the TV across the room. The other members of the Dark Riders had apparently scheduled a press conference to cover the situation that had happened that past weekend. He sat back and watched as the chinchilla he'd met the week before, Susan, if he remembered correctly, spoke to the reporters as they asked a question after question. He admired how she had sidestepped every question involving the incident between Alex and Roman. The chinchilla was a skilled public speaker. He was relieved by the quick action of the Dark Riders, and their early-morning news conference to discuss their plans and their project.
He knew was just a matter of time before the news crews showed up at City Hall to get his side of the story. The kestrel had managed to avoid them up to this point, and he had hoped to be able to catch up with Roman before the news crews had arrived. As if on cue the small intercom on the phone buzzed. He quickly tapped the little button and said, “Yes Nancy?”
[Councilman Zaritzky is here to see you Mr. Mayor.]
As the soft feminine voice spoke he sighed heavily. He straightened his tie and brushed back his head feathers as he replied, “Send him in.” Steven leaned forward on his desk over some random project papers he spread across the desk earlier to be sure he could at least look busy if he needed to. At the moment, his mind was a million miles away from anything that needed his attention. He ignored the sound of the office door slamming as the Dalmatian entered the room.
In a slightly nasally voice Roman said harshly, “What the hell are you going to do about this?”
The kestrel looked up from his papers to see the bandage on the Dalmatian's muzzle. He quickly stifled a snicker before it made its way past his beak. Leaning back in his chair, Steven looked Roman in the eye as he asked, “What do you want me to do about it? A dispute between a citizen and her representative on the city council is not part of the mayoral duties. I can’t abuse my position because you put your paw in your mouth.”
The dog man slammed his paws on the desk as he leaned forward as close as he could to Steven. “She was your guest, you brought her to that dinner planning this. You’ve had it out for me and everything I do for this city since you took office.”
Steven folded his fingers together as he leaned back in his high back leather chair. “Thats right, Roman, I found one of the newest residents of Marblecliff and invited her to a charity banquet just so she could crack your head on her knee. Let’s get one thing straight here. I might have invited her, but you approached her first. Looking at how well things turned out, you might have been lucky I stepped in when I did. I brought her to the banquet for the same reason I introduced her to you. I believe the project she is involved in is good for this city, and I thought more people should know about it. We don’t see eye to eye on many things, her project being one obviously, but I am not such a vindictive bastard that I would set out just to make you look bad. You do a good enough job of that on your own.”
A smile crossed the Dalmatian’s muzzle as he leaned in closer. “And just how is it going to look when the date of the mayor is picked up by the police for assaulting a city official?” The smirk on Stephen's face faded as the political repercussions for both him and the eagle were brought to the forefront of his mind. “And what will happen to your new pet project when one of their organizers is outed as a violent, uncontrollable menace to the public?”
The new scowl on Steven’s face showed more in his eyes than anything. He despised the councilman's underhanded tactics and knew he had an ulterior motive to the visit. Roman was too confident in his actions and issuing threats that he would have taken action on if he really intended to. “Cut to the chase. What is it that you want, Roman?”
A wicked smile rolled across the Dalmatian's bandaged muzzle as he sat in a chair opposite the kestrel. “Like you I have a little pet project that just came into town.”
“And it’s something I would be against, isn’t it?”
“Doesn’t really matter now, does it?” The Dalmatian smiled as he folded his fingers together in front of his face. “We both have something we want right now, and our only obstacle is each other. The real question is which one of us has more to lose if we don’t come to an agreement?”
Steven thought through the situation. He was not sure exactly what angle the councilman was playing, but he knew that it would not end good either way. “Okay, Roman, you leave the Dark Rider House and Alex… Miss Hawkins alone and I’ll…” He trailed off and cringed as he let go of his firm stand against many of the initiatives Roman pushed. “...Just get me what I need for your project and get out of my office.”
Roman stood up and reached his paw toward the kestrel with a sly smile. “Nice doing business with you.”
Steven spun in his chair, putting his back to the councilmen as he said, “Just get out.” As he heard the door close leaving him alone in the office he looked out the picture window to the courtyard beyond. “What the hell are you doing, Steven? You hardly know this eagle and you just sidestepped your own agenda to protect her and hers.” He let the chair swing around to face the desk and opened a drawer to lift out the large K-Bar knife that had not left his possession since the first time he saw the crazy avian in City Hall. He reached over and tapped the intercom button on the phone.
“Yes, Mr. Mayor?”
“Clear my agenda for the afternoon; I’m going to take a long lunch.”
Alex sat in the corner of the large room on her knees with a bucket of white paint and a small horsehair brush. She had spent the time after her return from the banquet secluded to her room. The others had not said a word to her about the news coverage; even Susan had seemed to avoid the topic. The silence on the matter worried the eagle more than if they had tormented her about it like she had expected.
She had imposed her own punishment for losing her cool in public, much like she had done for a few years after leaving the military. The room she had chosen was now painted in a smooth semi-gloss white. She had used no masking tape or drop cloths and wore only one set of coveralls, yet not a drop of white was out of place on the floor or herself. She has used only the paint buckets and a small quarter inch brush to complete her task. Now, as the thoughts of what she had done over the weekend played on continuous repeat in her mind, she sat with her beak only inches from the wall as she moved over the surface in search of any imperfections in the smooth finish. She didn’t stray from her task, even when the sound of others checking on her invaded the space. She was unsure how many hours had passed since she had returned that night, but she had seen at least two sunrises. It wasn’t until she heard her name called that she reacted.
“Boomer,” Susan called softly into the room, “Lilly’s leaving today and the old man is headed off to the VFW for a bingo or whatever the hell they do there.”
Without turning from her task, Alex asked, “Wha’s dat gotta do wit’ anyt’ing”
“Damn it, Boomer,” The chinchilla walked into the room, pulling the door closed behind her. “It’s been over a week since we did anything to the moose. It’s time to step up the game here; I want to hear her scream while she’s running.”
Alex twisted her body to look at her friend. “Dat’s all ya cen t’ink abou’ ‘azen Squeaker’s gialfren’. I fucdup ‘ere. Da mayah ‘ates us, an’ ‘es on da city counsil, It’s jus’ a matah of time bafer dey come knockin’ on da door fer me.”
Susan sat on the lonely canvas cot in the nearly vacant room as she looked at the eagle. “Look, you're dealing with politics here. It’s a different set of rules. He doesn’t want to look bad, either. That’s why I had the press conference today. The Dark Riders are now one of the big name projects in the city, or will be shortly. And your little incident with Mr. Zaritzky is a personal disagreement that is now within the purview of your involvement with the group. During the banquet, you were not acting in any official capacity for the group and were merely accompanying the Mayor to the event. Getting in a fight while on a date has nothing to do with being a member of the group, and we are dealing with the behavior internally.”
“IT WANDENT NO DATE!” Alex screeched in response to her friends comments.
“And our neighbor’s not an asshole hated by much of the community,” Susan said, “You can call it what you want, but no bird in their right mind that would not be interested in you is either stupid or gay. So which is he?”
“He ain’t…” Alex stopped herself from defending the kestrel as she thought back to each time the chinchilla turned her comments around on her.
“Look, whether he likes you or not, Mr. Archer didn’t do anything to distance himself from you after the incident with Mr. Zaritzky. In fact, I saw some of the longer video clips where he actually taunted the Dalmatian when he started to come to. It might work to our advantage if he see you as a political weapon against his rivals. The more he keeps you in the public eye the more positive exposure we have. The mayor, though the youngest in the history of the city is also the most loved. It seems he can do no wrong, His approval rating gained a few points when his guest to a charity banquet knocked his biggest rival out cold. Welcome to internet fame, Boomer. Your video has hit a million views over the past two days. The hermaphrodite community here in Morblecliff loves you.”
“Wai’ why?” Alex asked confused at the comment.
“Roman Zaritzky is the biggest opponent to the third gender movement. Everything that Steven pushed for the equality of hermaphrodites has been opposed and sometimes even blocked by that man.” As Susan spoke she watched the expression on the eagle turn from confusion to contempt.
“”es one a da ones dat be givin’ da moose a ‘ard time?” Alex stood up and started to strip the coveralls off to reveal the unclothed feathers of her body as she walked over to her duffle bag and started pulling out clothes.
“Not directly, but… What are you doing, Boomer?” Susan paused as she watched the eagle pull a metal bat from the bag along with a night shirt she pulled over her body.
“Ima ‘ave a talk wit’ mistah Zaritzky. ‘e wants ta see da ghetto trach and stan’ in da way of…” She trailed off for a moment as she walked out the door. “Ima chow him sumt’in’ ‘e aint ready fer.”
“Alex, don’t be stupid.” Susan jumped to her paws as she chased her friend out the door, only to see the eagle hop over the railing and fall to the floor below. “ALEX!” she shouted as she ran to look down at her. “If you do that, you really are going to fuck shit up.”
“I don’ cayah, ‘es gonna see…” Alex stopped her rant as she opened the front door to see Steven Archer standing there, poised to knock. Frozen in place as she looked him in the eyes, beak wide open with her last word, she dropped the bat to the floor.
Stunned in his own right as he looked at the avian woman dressed only in a semi-translucent nightshirt standing in the doorway before him, Steven stammered for a moment before he managed to form a sentence. “Am I interrupting something? I can come back later.”
As the sound of the bat hitting the floor echoed through the empty house, Susan ran for the stairs and descended as fast as her paws would carry her. As she hit the foot of the stairs she slammed into Alex, knocking her out of the way and free from her dumbfounded stupor. “No, not at all Mister Mayor. To what do we owe the honor of this visit?
The kestrel’s eyes remained locked on the eagle as her half-clothed form crashed to the floor from the impact of the chinchilla. He shook his head for a moment before he looked back to Susan and said, “I… ah. I came to return this to Miss Hawkins and have at least a tour of the site. I caught your press conference this morning and was quite impressed with how organized things appeared and wanted to see it for myself.”
Susan glanced at Alex as the eagle swiftly moved from the foyer into the dining room to escape through the house. “Please, do come in, and mind your step; we are in the midst of renovations. The property was not in the best of condition when we procured it.” The chinchilla listened to the clicking of Alex’s talons on the tile floor as she ascended the back stairs. “Please follow me to the kitchen where I can have someone meet you to show you around. Could I offer you a drink while you wait? We have a wide selection of teas and soft drinks. We tend to keep the alcoholic beverages to a minimum with the children and the plans for the residence, though we do have some domestic beers.”
“Residence?” Steven asked as he followed Susan into the large kitchen. “How many do you have in residence now?”
“At this time, it is just our group. There are seven of us living here during the renovations. Once renovations are complete, we are planning on having two dorm rooms allowing up to twelve temporary residents to be housed. Following the vision of our young Miss Cecily Fargo, the plan is to offer an environment unlike most rescue homes and institutions…”
Steven interrupted her as she started to explain, “Boomer… Miss Hawkins explained that to me on our first meeting. I would love to meet this young Miss Fargo, and her mother.”
“Miss Fargo left town this morning after the press conference to take care of an issue with one of our first residents, a Miss Daisy Daniels. She was offered a place in the house after the Fargos met her and her family on a cruise. During their time on that cruise, young Miss Fargo got to know Miss Daniels and learned about her situation, and offered her a place here. Miss Daniels has since joined the group as an active member and will be working closely with young Miss Fargo to see the vision come to fruition. Young Miss Fargo and Miss Daniels are also out of the house learning about the community and looking for additional work for Miss Daniels to cover her costs.”
“Wait,” Steven stopped her as he took a seat on one of the bar stools built in by the counter, “You’re telling me that the residents of the house are expected to cover their own costs?”
“One of the goals of the Dark Rider House is to equip these young people with the means to take care of themselves. In the spirit of that, those who are old enough to work outside of the house are expected to hold a steady job if they intend to be long-term residents. Those too young to work outside will be given tasks and responsibilities within the house, chores you might say,” Susan explained as she pulled a soft drink from the fridge.
“You guys are taking a very family-style approach to this endeavor.” Steven smiled as she sat the drink in front of him.
Susan leaned on the counter as she looked the kestrel in the eyes, “Okay, bullshit aside, Alex is my best friend. And I don’t care if you're the most eligible bachelor, the mayor, the president… I don’t give a shit if you’re fucking Superman. If you do anything that truly hurts her, I will snap you like a twig.”
“Miss… Um…” Steven looked back at the stone-faced chinchilla, not sure how to react to the sudden change.
“Susan, for now you can just call me Susan,” she said, eyes still fixed on his, “And don’t give me that, ‘I am here because I am interested in your project’ shit. I can tell you are interested. Shit, I plan on abusing the hell out of you as our biggest supporter. But the issue is Boomer. She doesn’t know this political game, the give-and-take or the little deals made behind closed doors that keep things running with or without the approval of your constituents.”
Steven stopped for a moment as he thought about what had happened in his office that morning. He cracked the drink can open as he felt a sick feeling rise in the pit of his stomach as the chinchilla continued her rant.
“Boomer is a straight shooter. She doesn't know how to lie or hide her feelings. You saw that this weekend. You push her buttons and she reacts, even if you don’t know what buttons you are pushing. The thing I see here is you are interested in more than just the political stuff. If I am wrong and you are just using her, I can guarantee I will be the least of your worries if she finds out. You may be loved by this city, but if you want to get to her, you will have to earn it. If not, you are playing with dynamite and you’re going to get burned.”
The kestrel swallowed hard on the beak full of soda as the chinchilla issued her warning. The things she had said about the eagle only served to solidify what he thought of her. She was just the type of person he wanted to be around. A nice change from the backstabbing, double-dealing of those he spent so much time with in his work. He wanted to get to know her, the real her. The few times that he met her, she seemed to be hiding what she really was, and only showing her true colors when she felt pushed. He just needed time to get through to her, and he was going to take it slow.
Alex leaned against the closed door to the room as she tried to catch her breath. She was uncertain of exactly why she froze at that moment. If it was anyone else at the door she would have pushed past them without thinking. But why did she even care what he thought? She slid down the door to the floor and pulled her knees up to her chest. “Pull ya’self tagedah,” She said into the empty room, “Ya know what Fluffy’s gonna do nex’. Ches gonna come up ‘ere and pawn ‘im off on me jus’ ‘caus she cen.”
She sat for a moment, resting her beak on her knees as she thought through her encounters with the kestrel over the past few weeks. She couldn’t think of one thing she had done right, one encounter she had not somehow screwed up. Even the dinner with the Eschers was a catastrophe. There was no good reason for him to be coming around other than his interest in what they were doing, and she wasn’t much more than a legal representative for the group. She considered her options and settled on being what she was good at: the professional lawyer that might actually stand a chance of not embarrassing herself again.
Alex stood and stripped off the gown she wore as she headed for the walk-in closet off the bathroom. As soon as she stepped through the doorway, the object that now symbolized her own failure hung in plain view, by itself on one wall: the red floral applique dress she had worn to the banquet. Anyone else would miss it, but her eyes were instantly drawn to the slightly off-color red stain in the knee. The hollow sound of the Dalmatian's head echoed in the back of her mind as she relived the moment she lost control.
She shook her head and moved to the side of the closet filled with the collection of black business suits and dresses. The haven and control of her professional life calmed the eagle, and allowed her to breath easy for a moment as she pulled the pant suit off the hanger and slipped it on over her nude feathers. She slipped on a white sports bra and slightly frilly shirt as she readied herself for public viewing. She briskly walked out of the closet with renewed purpose as she headed for the mirror to look over the final details.
As she stepped into view in the highly polished glass she nearly panicked. She swiftly started preening her feathers as if each one needed to be in the proper place and shape. She quickly moved to powdering her beak to cut down on the shine as if she was going to be in front of cameras at any moment. Her rushed effort was cut short when a knock came at the outer door to her room.
“Boomer,” Susan’s voice called to her. “I have him in the kitchen choking down a drink. I’m headed back into the garage apartment. He’s all yours.” Alex listened as the pawsteps moved away from the door.
Alex let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding as she released her death grip on the porcelain sink. She looked her reflection in the eyes, taking several deep breaths to steady her nerves. “Good afternoon, Mr. Mayor, and welcome to the Dark Rider House.” She practiced the simple words with more effort than she would normally use to maintain the neutral accent. She closed her eyes and took one last deep breath before she walked out of the room.
»-(¯`·.·´¯)-> Strange Company<-(¯`·.·´¯)-«
Steven sat at the built-in bar and stool as he looked over the large common room and adjoining kitchen. The place had a more family-oriented feel to it than the mayoral mansion. Even in the state of disrepair, he almost felt at home in the place. The kestrel leaned back against the counter, soft drink in hand as he let a little smile creep onto his face.
He spun swiftly on the stool as a male’s voice entered the room from behind him. His eyes went wide as he saw the otter from the dinner walk into the kitchen area with what looked like a disassembled high-powered rifle. “Lilly nearly burned and warped the barrel this time. I think I need to order a new…” The otter stopped mid-sentence as he saw the bird sitting at the counter. For the second time that afternoon, Steven heard the sound of metal hitting the floor as he watched the otter kick the barrel of the weapon under the edge of the counter. “Good afternoon, Mr. Archer. I didn’t realize we had company.”
Standing up from his seat, expression back to a friendly smile as he stepped toward Hank. “Mr. Heartken, if I remember correctly. A pleasure to see you again.” The avian’s political conversation skills headed into full swing as he ignored the obvious attempt to avoid an awkward moment. “I came to have a look at the progress your group has made on your…”
As the mayor weaved his words to lighten the situation, Hank interrupted, “Save your bull shit for someone who cares. I’m sure Boomer will be down in a moment.” He leaned down and picked up the discarded weapon part. “We covered all the stuff you really wanted to know two weeks ago over pizza, beer, and video games. Let’s be honest, between us guys. You have a thing for Alex, hell I would if I wasn’t scared Sue would kill me. But just to let you know, she is a little… um… adventurous, if you know what I mean.” As he spoke, the otter turned to leave the room as he asked, “You wouldn’t know which way Susan went would you?”
“Ms. Shelby went to the garage apartment,” the calm, collected voice of the eagle spoke from the foyer. “She should still be there if you need her.” Steven’s beak dropped open as she entered the room. The tight, form fitting outfit put every other image of the eagle out of his mind for a moment. “Mr. Mayor, how can I help you today?”
Steven licked the inside of his beak as his mouth went dry. His mind raced with images and ideas that he really never expected to think when looking at a woman in a business suit. He stopped for a moment and cleared his throat while he straightened his tie. “Ms. Hawkins, it’s a pleasure to see you again. I am sorry you left the banquet so suddenly. I would have at least liked to introduce you to a few other prominent figures in our community.”
“I’m sorry, but the atmosphere did not agree with my stomach,” the eagle said as she moved to the refrigerator. “Can I offer you a drink before I give you a tour of our facilities?”
“Boomer,” Steven started and stopped when he saw the eagle give him a look that made his feathers ruffle, “Ms. Hawkins, can I call you Alex? To be honest I rather enjoy the raw, natural personalities of the people I spend time with. You don’t have to work to impress me. You and your group have already done that with what you are doing here.”
“Thank you, Mr. Mayor. We have managed to accomplish much more than we expected in a short time with the help you have given us.”
“Please, call me Steven,” the kestrel said as he tried to make eye contact with the eagle who seemed to be dodging the situation. “And I really haven't done anything that I would not do for any other group.”
Steven stepped back as the eagle swung around to face him. “Don’ give me dat chit.” The eagle’s voice dropped back to her native accent as she locked eyes with the man. Time seemed to stop for a moment as they looked into each other’s eyes. Steven watched as the look of anger drained from her face in the moments of silence until she blinked and looked away. “I’m sorry for that little outburst, Mr. Mayor. Is there anything in particular you would like to see today?”
The Kestrel blinked and looked to the floor for a moment, not sure how to take the sudden change in the eagle’s demeanor. He started to take off his jacket as he said, “Why don’t you show me where I can lend a hand. It looks like you could use some help and I took the afternoon off.”
Alex turned to look at Steven as he started to roll up his sleeves. Unsure of exactly how she should react to his offer the help she simply pointed up and said, “We’ah workin’ on da top floo’. Cleanin’ and paintin’.”
“Well then, Show me where to start.” Steven started his way the the foyer. “What were you working on before I got here? We can just start there.”
Alex rushed past him and up the stairs as she nearly screeched, “I was paintin’ da hall.”
As he reached the foot of the stairs he heard a door slam and the sound of an audible lock click echo through the empty foyer. Not worried about the sudden rush from the other bird he said, “Sounds great, just point the way.”
»-(¯`·.·´¯)->Meeting the Leader<-(¯`·.·´¯)-«
Daisy followed Cecily into the house through the back door from the motor court as they returned from their exploration of the town. “I think you should take the job at the bakery,” the small mouse said with a little giggle in her voice. “It might get you some points with Lilly if you come home with a cake now and then.”
“I was thinking the same thing, Trail mix,” Daisy replied as she hefted the large stuffed moose plush over her shoulder. “And why did we buy this thing again? I thought I was enough moose for you.”
Cecily started up the back stairs as she said, “I’ll need something the hold onto when you work late.” She turned as she reached a point on the stairs where she stood eye-to-eye with her girlfriend as she added, “And I have a few other Ideas I want to try later.”
Daisy tilted her head, and with a sly smile she asked, “What’s going on in that little mind of yours now, Sisy? Or do I even want to know?”
“It’s... um… more for me than you,” the small mouse replied. “But it’s kind of for both of us. You’ll just have to wait and see.” She turned and continued up the stairs while she continued talking, “We still need to finish painting our room so we can get a real bed in there.” She looked over her shoulder with a smile as she said, “Unless you want to keep sleeping in the pile of comforters and sheets. But I think a little more room to… um roll around would be fun.”
“More room to roll around… or slide around, or…. yea sounds good to me sweet cheeks,” the moose herm replied, her smile widening as she spoke. “Just… maybe we should look into a rubber mattress cover…” she trailed off, leaving the rest of her comment unsaid.
Daisy paused for a moment when she saw Cecily stop at the top of the stairs before she quickly trotted to the top and saw what halted the mouse. The moose herm’s jaw dropped as she saw Alex sitting on the floor in one of her business suits with her small paintbrush in hand. Next to her was another avian dressed in grey slacks and a baby blue shirt, tie tossed over his shoulder, with a dripping paint roller in his hand. She looked down as Cecily tugged on her shirttail and said, “Boomer has paint on her pants.”
“What? Boomer… Oh my God get your camera, this is a fucking Kodak moment if I’ve ever seen one,” the moose said wide eyed. “After seeing that apartment of hers there’s no way anyone else is gonna believe this shit.”
Cecily collapsed to one knee as the denim backpack swung from her shoulder to the floor. The sound of the mouse getting her camera out caught the attention of the two in the hall. Alex stood as the mouse knelt down, just in time to be in position for Cecily to get a full shot of her and the kestrel nearly side by side, each covered with little splatters of paint. Alex screeched as she saw the flash of the camera and lunged toward Cecily as she shouted, “Noyadon’!”
Almost as if a practiced move even Daisy had not seen before, Cecily dove to one side, and launched herself into the room that the two shared near the back stairs, disappearing into the large room, out of the eagle’s reach. Daisy tumbled backward as Alex hit her center mass, sending the two crashing down the stairs. As they came to a stop midway to the bottom, Daisy heard the unfamiliar male voice call down, “Is everyone okay? Do I need to call an ambulance?”
Daisy, slightly stunned by the impact, and the fact that Alex nearly used her body as a boogie board to ride down the uneven incline, screamed as she saw Alex swiftly move, touching and squeezing almost every inch of the moose. “Stop squirmin’! I don’ know if I broke anyt’in.”
As the eagle continued her assault on the confused herm, Susan rounded the corner of the top of the stairs and shouted, “Sitrep!,
Instantly Alex spouted out the most confusing thing Daisy had ever heard the eagle say. “Stairs Voice 1Alpha Alpha 1Alpha Alpha Delta Bravo stairs.”
“What the fuck did you do, Boomer?” Susan asked as she started down the stairs. “Get off her and let me have a look.”
Steven stood dumbfounded by the swift action and almost unthinking manner in which the two women moved and aided one another in checking the moose for injuries. As he watched he felt a small body push past him. He looked down to see a kangaroo mouse that he thought couldn’t be more than eight years old. “Is... Is she okay? It... it’s my fault.”
Still a bit dazed, the moose looked up to the top of stairs and said, “No… it’s not.” Looking to the chinchilla she tried to force her eyes to uncross as she added, “Did ya get the license number of that truck?”
As the moose made her joke, Alex stood up, “Che’s Fine.” She started walking back up the stairs as she looked up at the mouse, “Now ya gonna give me da camera, Squeaker?”
As the eagle asked the question Susan looked up, and asked, “What did you get on the camera? Were Boomer and our guest doing something they shouldn't?” She smiled as she looked at Alex.
“Noweweren’doin’notin’,” the stream of words poured out of the eagles beak too fast from real comprehension as Alex spun to face her.
Steven looked around confused as the others burst into laughter after the mouse said, “Cluck cluck.”
“Don’t do it, Sisy,” the moose herm said as she began to pull herself from the floor. “Consider that as payback for that shit in the foyer, Alex.”
As the scene settled and everyone got to their feet Susan looked at Alex and snickered as she said, “Did you get any on the walls?”
Alex looked down at herself and back at the chinchilla as she lunged and shouted something even more incoherent as the two rolled the rest of the way down the stairs. Steven stood dumbfounded at the display before him as he watched the eagle react without considering that he was watching. He smiled as he watched the tussle between the two, more playful than any actual fight. He looked down at the mouse as the commotion now seemed distant. “Hello, you must be Cecily.”
Cecily squeaked and backed away toward her room as the kestrel spoke to her. “Y... yes,” she said softly as she felt her heart begin to race. Her eyes darted around as she looked for her escape path only to lock onto the dazed moose on the stairs. “D... Daisy,” She squeaked softly, almost inaudible over the commotion below, as she continued to back away from the kestrel.
“Wait,” Steven said as he started to kneel before the mouse, “I’m Mayor Archer. I wanted to meet the mastermind behind this initiative.”
“No offense, Mr. Mayor,” Daisy said as she climbed the stairs, “but do us both a favor and don’t make any sudden moves. Just hang tight, Trail mix,” she added as she saw the look of panic in the mouse’s eyes. Climbing the last few stairs she stepped up beside her girlfriend.
Steven stood up as he watched the mouse move slightly behind the moose. “I’m guessing you must be her assistant, Daisy?” He held his hand out. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Mayor Steven Archer, and would like to welcome you all to Marblecliff. When I first heard about what your group was planning on doing I took an immediate interest in the project. It wasn’t until I meet Ms. Shelby and Mr. Heartken that I found out that this was the brainchild of this young lady.”
“Her assistant... okay we’ll go with that, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Mayor,” Daisy said, taking his offered gesture and shaking his hand. “You heard right, this whole idea was hers, and if this bunch is any indication she’s gonna change some people’s lives.”
Daisy felt the mouse’s tail wrap around her leg as Cecily stepped out from behind her. “D… Daisy is my girlfriend, and yes… this is my home. It is going to be what I always dreamed, what everyone should have the chance to see at least once. A real home, where others really care.” She paused and looked at Steven for a moment, “You like Alex, don’t you? You invited her to that banquet where she knocked out our neighbor.”
“Yes, I did invite her to that banquet to meet some of the prominent figures here in Marblecliff so that she might be able to spread the word about your progress.”
“It… it would have been better to take Susan for that,” the mouse said softly, “She’s a better public face than Alex. The only reason I could see you taking Alex is you wanted her to go with you. And that’s probably why you are really here.”
“Aren't you a creative one?” Steven said with a smile. “She is a beautiful woman, and in a place like a charity ball, she’s easier on the eyes…”
Steven was interrupted by a female voice close to his ear, “So I’m too ugly to be seen with the mayor? You hear that, Boomer, he thinks I make milk curdle just by looking at it.”
“‘e said wha’?” the eagle spoke into his other ear.
Daisy smiled as she found herself not the target of the two women’s torment. “I would just hang your head and walk out now before you dig that hole deeper. You have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into.” She smiled wider as she finally got to use the single line she had heard repeatedly from everyone she met since the little mouse came into her life.
Steven looked around himself, noting that he was outnumbered and surrounded. He put his wings up as he said, “I surrender, you win. I really stepped in it with that one. I’m sorry. On another note. How would you all like to have dinner at the Mayoral Mansion?”
“Look at that,” Susan said, “now he’s trying to bribe us to keep silent. Just how bad will it look if we went to the media and told them that the mayor is speciest against mammals?”
“Wait, I… No… That’s not…” Steven struggled for the first time in years to find a way to talk himself out of the situation. Slowly he realized the small group would easily turn anything he said against him.
“Take zee moose’s advice ant step avay vhile you can,” the old gruff voice said from behind him, “You’ve lost zis vone. Ant Just to let you know, vee vould be happy to join zee Mayor of zis fine city for a meal. Just call ven you have zings aranget.”
He turned as the eagle and chinchilla backed away, both smiling as they did. His eyes meet those of an older badger as he breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you for the rescue. I really don’t know how I would have gotten out of here alive.”
“Don’t zank me yet younk man,” the badger said with a crooked smile as he leaned on a wooden cane. “You haven’t made it out of zee house yet. Zee loyalty in zis house is vith zee team ant nozing else.”
Steven looked around at the collection of nearly sinister smiles on all the faces except the mouse, even the moose joining the group. “I… umm… I’ll have my office call when we have things arranged. Thank you for welcoming me into your home, and I look forward to our next meeting.” He turned and walked down the hall with his head held high as he tried to maintain his composure amongst the small band of furs that almost appeared more like an invasion party than a family or charity group.
As the mayor disappeared from sight, Susan leaned against Alex and said, “He likes you. I mean he like likes you.”
“Dis ain’t grade skoo,” Alex replied, “‘e’s a grown man an’ chuld ‘ave the neahve ta tell me sumt’in’ like dat.” She huffed, crossing her wings as she walked back to her room and unlocked the door. The remainder of the group were unsure how to react as they heard a scream emanate from the room shortly before the outfit Alex was wearing flew out the door and down to the debris collection area in the foyer.
Cecily looked around and was the first to speak. “She lasted longer than I thought she would, and I got at least one picture.” As the mouse spoke the rest of the group burst into laughter.