split open the kegs of salted sprats

The Extra Mile 
#1
He recalled driving by some new construction at some point in his travels. Today, he was pulling in to a brand new garage and convenience store in the same place and wondering briefly how much time he had misplaced, for it was as though the store had sprung up overnight. This was nothing new for him. Remy was such a relaxed individual that he may as well not have any concept of time whatsoever. He lived for now.

He backed his truck in to a spot off the side and shut her down. Stepping out, hands on his hips, he whistled at the establishment. Not far from his home, this place would provide him easily accessed gasoline and more importantly, snacks. Convenience stores often had all the best things near one another: trail mix and peanuts; chocolate bars and candies; local jerkies and pepperonis in plastic flip-top containers or jars with little tongs... yup. He sure was pleased with the new addition to Red Rock's sparse main drag.

Remington was about to venture inside and see what was on offer when afternoon sunlight glinted off something shiny. Sufficiently distracted, he wandered over to discover a newly minted nickel, which he promptly bent to pick up. He held to coin up for inspection, and then polished it on the shoulder of his black tee shirt before slipping it into the pocket of his blue jeans. The caw of a crow overhead on a light pole drew his attention next.

"Sorry ol' chap, were you lookin' at that?"
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#2
The day was somewhat muggy. But still warm enough that Orri had decided to go out and explore. This time he let his fox out closer to civilization, feeling that he could hop back and get a drink of water or something if needed.

After running around in the heat and rolling around in the red dirt he had decided that a drink was definitely in order. So he had sniffed his way to the nearest building hoping to find some water, or a drink. As he was trotting his way up to the road a smell wafted over. A new smell. Were smell. A playmate!

Renewed he slithered under the fence around the gas station, going through a dug hole that smelled a lot like coyote. Bent over by the pumps was a tall man, built very muscly. Hesitant Orri paused under a light pole which sent a crow fluttering off with an offended caw. This apparently caught the attention of the man who stood up and turned to look over. Orri grinned and his tongue lolled.
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#3
There were downsides to owning a white van. Especially somewhere red and dusty. Not so much an issue when you were parked in a lay by in the middle of nowhere, as soon as said van came within range of mischievous little fingers the problem became starkly apparent.

C L E E N
M E !!
8==D - - -

Had Fletch been a betting man, he might have put money on his Banksy belonging to one of three coyotes; retribution for his own efforts on the floor of the garage. But the spelling error seemed more likely attributable to a denizen of Red Rock itself. Either way, much as he enjoyed a good bit of lewd anarchy, it had to go. There was no sense in driving around advertising who and what you were if you stood to gain nothing from it.

Parked near enough to the garage to take advantage of its water supply, but not so close that Kai might find herself the unwilling participant of a wet t-shirt contest, he was occupied uncoiling a substantial length of hose when a truck pulled off onto the dirt. The owner caught his attention, not just on account of the fact he was built like a brick shit house, but because his presence was one both unfamiliar and curious.

'Nah, you keep it, mate.' He called, well aware the man had been talking to a crow. 'Won't net you a bouncy ball. Might afford a Chupa Chup with it though, if you're that way inclined.'
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#4
Remington was a hunter and observant as such; he took immediate note of the appearance of a suspicious fox idling beneath the pole. This was no resident species of Colorado but a notably large arctic sort. He smiled knowingly at the beast, but a reply from elsewhere had the man turning his head to regard a feller uncoiling hose at the side of the building. Remy laughed, grinned and tipped his head as he headed that way.

"I wouldn't turn down a Chupa Chup, no sir. I'm inclined to any way that involves food." Remy winked as he closed the distance and extended his hand, aware of an all too familiar ripple of uncertainty along his spine. It came with the territory of having a small beast in a world dominated by critters far larger and more powerful. "Name's Remy. I was just about to wander in there actually and see what snacks could be had."
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#5
'Figured you might be.' He grinned as his palm clapped against the one offered over, his handshake firm and easy in a way that suggested frequent deployment. 'Fletch.'

That same hand shielded his eyes as he regarded the convenience store tacked onto the garage. 'Don't let me stop you. We've got chips, candy, candied chips, chipped candy, fruit, trail mix, nuts; salted, roasted, sweet and mildly unhinged -' he winked back at him. 'Not including yours truly.'

The head of the hose hanging limply beside him, he used it to gesture at the doors. 'Give Mr. Wonka a run for his money in there. An Aladdin's cave of nibbles.' He eyed him. Tried to figure him out some. 'You local?'
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#6
There was another man, another smell, another playmate. His nose twitched and he bounced on the pads of his paws. Playmate! They were talking about food and his ears swiveled to hear better. Still grinning he started to pad forward, towards the men and their cars.

One smelled like something new, the thinner more stringy one, almost like a coyote. But he didn't have time to think on that as the Muscle man's scent became clear. Food! Delicious plump rat. He felt incredibly sorry for the man for the barest moment before the fox instincts took over.

He lunged for the man ready to bite into the flesh and taste the rat. Except his feet skidded on the rough pavement of the lot and he went tumbling head over paws and landed in a heap. The acrobatics did managed to dislodge some of the dirt on his fur.


Missed chomp

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#7
"Fletch." He parroted, committing the name to memory as they shook hands.

His ear was on his newfound friend but his eyes trailed to the side. The fox was moving. Keeping the animal in his periphery, Remy carried on the conversation with ease. "Just met you and already you know how to speak my language, good on ya!" He laughed. "I'm local. Ain't been around long but yeah, just down the road aways, south of the Squealing Hog, you'll see an old wooden sign with RKT slapped onto it. That drive is mine. Got a decent home and some land down there. Door's open if you're in the area and need a safe place to hang out. Got plenty of extra beds too if you're caught out wandering under the moon some night." Remington's smile and twitch of his brows said it all. That bushy tail and slick ears he caught a glimpse of in his mind marked them as brothers. So to speak. His rat thought otherwise.

Closer came the fox, looking rather predatory in its prowl. Remy smirked and waited, reminded of a time when a brazen raccoon had looked similar. The fox lunged for him but seemed to have a poor grasp on its own limbs. It missed him and went sprawling instead. Remy seized his chance to swoop down on the little anklebiter and pluck him up by his scruff, holding him aloft in front of him. "Easy there, fella. Probably hungry, huh? Where's your mind at? Can you talk, got a sensible person lyin' in that skull of yours or what?"

With his free hand, Remy dug into his pocket and produced a half-eaten pack of licorice nibs. "This probably won't do you, eh? Tell you what, how about I set you down and if you goes and behaves yourself, I'll buy you a snack too. Deal?"



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#8
It was always a funny notion, meeting someone like Remy. Physically big but metaphysically small, Fletch was privately glad his own monthly shrinks weren't on the same scale. As ever, he wondered. The mutt offered up a soft, brown shape; frustratingly obtuse.

'I'll bear that in mind, mate. Thanks.' A nod. Few and far between were the times Fletch willingly slipped into his second skin, but he tucked the mental image of Remy's place away nonetheless. A backstop, in the event of emergency. He considered it would be worth getting to know him a little better before then. Remy might have been smiles and winks and great overtures of kindness on the surface, but who knew what he got up to come dark.

The fox had caught his eye previously; suffering the same predicament as his van, and ironically the same, nominal shade of white. Unlike Remy, Fletch paid the creature no mind. What business it had skulking around in broad daylight was anyone's guess. At least until it made a move for the Extra Mile's would-be customer.

He might have intervened. Hosed the fox a little, like one might an errant cat. But seeing the big guy had the situation both metaphorically and literally in hand he returned to his task; opening up one of the Sprinter's rear doors and tugging out a storage bin from underneath his bed.

One ear trained to the exchange all the while, he smirked to himself as he found a head for the hose. Both generous and benevolent, Remy displayed far more restraint than he might have done. Part of him was impressed. A larger part of him sank in disappointment he wouldn't learn how far the man could punt a furry football.
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#9
The moment he was picked up by the scruff his body went still, curling his tail up between his legs and scrunching his limbs up to be easier to move. An instinct of the foxes. It did allow him to regain some control, enough to attempt speech. He was rather abashed, he had tried to eat a man.

"Sorrrre. You smell dericious. I might bite again if you purt me down."

His words came out awkward with far to many R's. But well considering he was speaking with a snout instead of lips it was rather impressive at least he thought so. The packet of sweets smelled mouth watering and his nose was twitching eager to be inside the bag. A snack sounded wonderful, but he was fairly sure he would lose himself to the desire to chew on this man's ankle. Probably not a great thing considering how physically powerful the man seemed.

The other man seemed uninterested in the exchange and was moving around in the car.

The touching did mean that metaphysical animals could sniff at each other. His own fox was far more interested in trying to eat the rat though.
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#10
Well, what did you know. The fox had a voice. If Fletch's ears were capable of twitching as he stood on two legs, they might have done.

'Can't promise my finger won't slip on this hose trigger if you do,' he offered the lazy threat from where he stood; testing the pressure once or twice against the palm of his hand. With a faint frown, he dialled it round from SHOWER to JET. Pointed it at the fox as one might a gun before using it to motion at Remy. 'This bloke's our star customer. He's not for eating.'
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#11
So there was a person lurking somewhere nearby within the fox. Splendid! By the sounds of it though, he didn't quite have a full grasp of his beast and was prone to giving into the urging of animal instincts. Remy understood. He sensed the three of them were standing somewhere on equal footing.

"Hah! I'll take that as a compliment!"

Remy considered his options as he rubbed at his beard. He was not the least bit worried about the fox having another go at him, but he would prefer to handle the situation without blood being drawn. Licorice might not have been a natural part of a fox's diet and that was unfortunate, but who went around with lemmings in their pocket exactly? (Remy might, if lemmings came salted in little baggies...) Besides, Remy could see that twitching nose and grinned. Hungry animals, especially opportunistic predators, would hardly turn down anything.

"Alright. Here's what's going to happen, Mr. Fox." He flung the packet of nibs off to the side. "I'm going to give you a gentle lob toward that there licorice. You're going to help yourself to it. Have a bit o' fun diggin' into the plastic. I'm going to go into the store and find us all something proper, and while I'm doin' that, Fletch is going to watch ya, and give you a good blast if you act stupid." He punctuated this with a nod. Then, leaning down, he did as he said he would: he gently swung the fox toward the licorice and released his hold on the scruff, hoping the little beast would land on his feet and be too engaged in the sweet treat to bother turning around to come for Remy's delicious ankles.
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#12
So he was going to get a treat. His mouth all salivated at the thought and in the next instant he was flying through the air. Woohoo! He landed in a roll of sorts coming up on wobbly legs. The bag of sweets was close enough that it immediately captured the fox's interest and he dove for it.

Plastic was not very condusive to be opened by claws and he scrambled at it eventually resorting to biting with his teeth. While he did so he made little yipping sounds excited by the smell. One good tug and tear with one of his fangs and the bag spilled open it's sticky red contents. With a lolling tongue he slurped up some of the objects and attempted to chew them. They stuck against his teeth and he sat back on his hunches mouth open as his tongue attempted to lick the sticky mess off of where it had become trapped. So engrossed in this he paid no mind to the playmate or the meal smelling man,
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#13
That worked perfect, Remy noted with a chuckle and a toothy grin.

He headed into the store. His nose and his eye both were drawn to the wieners cooking slowly on rollers. Two were ready. He chucked them into the foil bags provided, forgoing the option of steamed buns and any condiments. Roaming about the snacks, he selected one of his favorites: dill pickle Spitz. Next, a pack of Wonka Everlasting Gobstoppers. Then at the counter, two Chupa Chups were tossed into the mix as he readied to pay for the works.

Remington wandered back to Fletch with a small white bag of goodies in hand. The fox was still at the licorice. Dumping the two wieners into his hands from their foil packs, he tossed them toward the fox. They landed at his paws. "That oughta fix ya up!" Remy called out. Next, he extended his hand to Fletch with the two Chupa Chups held between his thumb and forefinger; apple and orange flavors. "Pick your poison. Got some Gobstoppers and sunflower seeds here too."
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#14
Fletch shut the Sprinter's rear door with a soft snap. Quite content to fall in with Remy's game plan, he leant against the van and fiddled with his hose; his attention passing back and forth between the dial on the end of the nozzle and the fox. If he squeezed a sharp jet of water in the general direction of the latter, well, it was explained away by his nonchalance. A man had to check his plumbing was in order, didn't he?

Fortunately for the fox, Remy returned before Fletch was overcome by the impulse to soak him. Like a beach-ready Santa Claus he came bearing gifts; lending the impression that he was a man of his word in more than just a moral sense. Fletch raised a brow as two hot dogs were tossed to their four-legged friend, before the sight of two, brightly-wrapped globes made him forget his detached, wry amusement in favour of a joy that was far more honest.

'Ah, really?' Apple was plucked from the pair, before he knocked the hard boiled sweet against its twin. 'Been yonks since I had one of these. Cheers.'

Wasting no time in divesting the lollipop from its wrapper, he stuck it in the corner of his gob. The wrapper found his pocket. 'Take it you found what you were looking for, then.' That question needed no answer. Remy was armed with snacks enough to satisfy the three of them, if not to see him home. 'So what do you do out here, anyway?' He asked, turning at last to the task of hosing the knob off his van. 'What's your business?'
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#15
He had just managed to lick the last trace of the sweet from his teeth when two hot dogs came bouncing up to his feet. Food! He pounced mouth wide and grabbed hold of one of the sausages with his teeth. After tearing into it he gulped it down and went for the next. Only after both the hot dogs and the bag of licorice was the fox mulled enough that he could trot up to the meal smelling man without attacking.

He sat down in between the men and let his tongue loll out of his mouth. It was a bright red from the sweets. A drink was in order though and he eyed the hose and the stream of water coming out of it.

With only a moments hesitation he bounded up to the van and leapt up biting at the water.
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#16
"Cheers," Remy grinned and tipped his head again as orange knocked against apple. He followed after Fletch in unwrapping the lolly and shoving it to the corner of his mouth, and could not help the amusement he felt at the pair of them standing there like school kids with their treats. It was not often enough that Remington encountered another spirit who seemed like himself; someone who could go along with the flow and simply make the best of what was being handed to them.

In reply to Fletch's first question, Remy laughed and bobbed his head. "I'm a taxidermist," he answered to the second. "I'm fixing up my homestead a bit right now and getting my workplace sorted out before I get back into the full swing of things. What about yourself? This your shop?" If The Extra Mile was owned and run by a Were, then Remy would be all the more eager to drop his cash here.

The fox had finished with its wieners and was coming bounding over. Remy quartered toward the little predator, prepared, in case it decided it was still feeling a bit chompy. Seemed it was more interested in the water. It sat between him and Fletch for a moment or two before going after the hose. Remy laughed and shook his head, playing with and rolling the lollipop in his mouth with his tongue. "Well, ain't this a picture. Two of us grown men sucking on Chupawhatchamacallsits with our little pet."
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#17
This time, Fletch didn't hold back. As the fox leapt up to take advantage of the water jet, it was turned on him; full-throttle, smack-in-the-gob.

'Tough-guy sucks and watches older man shower young fox.' He suggested, smirking around the lurid green bauble. The creature received a good, thorough soaking. 'Nah, wish I could say this place was mine. Belongs to a couple of band mates; joint-owned, as I understand it. I'm just a groupie.'

Freeloader was a more accurate term. Making use of the garage's water supply was the tip of the iceberg when it came to his sticky-fingered crimes. Remy didn't need to know this, of course. The generous were often less giving once they knew they'd get nothing in return.

Deciding he had grown bored of watering the fox Fletch dialled the hose back to SHOWER. The water then sighed against the van doors. 'You best watch yourself, laddie. If the wind changes on you,' he told the voracious vulpine, 'you'll stick like that.'

'Taxidermist though, that's a skill and a half,' addressing Remy, his brows rose in a gesture of admiration. 'You hunt your own specimens too, or -?'

Despite his stature, Fletch got the impression Remy wasn't much of a hunter. But he'd been surprised before.



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#18
He got a bite full of water before it was suddenly turned on him. The force of it blasted him back to the ground and into a heap. It did however manage to clean out his fur which now shined a wonderful snowy white. He gave a gurgled yip and coughed up some water. The fox was entirely mollified and slunk about his mind with its tail under it's legs. It would be best to change back now.

His ear twitched as he gave a listen to the conversation. Owned by a band of weres? Oh cool. Hopefully that meant they wouldn't mind if he began to shift on the property. Still shifting out in the open probably wasn't a good idea. He moved his head looking around for some cover. There was a truck, the meal smelling man's vehicle.

Standing up his coat dripped puddles of water onto the ground and stuck to his skin. Tail between his legs he scurried under the truck. Once there he began the shift. Fur began to shrink into the skin along with the tail. Both of his Hind legs snapped out of place. He gave a few whimpers of pain.
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#19
He saw that coming. His companion did not seem possessed of as much patience as Remington. The fox received a good ol' soaking for its antics and at this, and Fletch's lewd witticism, Remy laughed heartily.

The mention of a band had his ears metaphorically perking, but the question he wanted to ask was held as Fletch directed a warning to the fox and asked one of his own. "It's quite something," he chuckled. "I hunt a lot myself, yep. Good thing because sometimes the capes from my own deer wind up being used in the mounts I do for clients. I don't get it myself, but some folks want minor imperfections like scars in the pelt cut out and patched. They're takin' away some of the animal's story when they do that, baw!" Throughout his reply, Remy gesticulated animatedly, finishing by tossing a hand out in the air. His expression briefly shifted to something of a frown but never once did he lose his good cheer. This was just something he was a passionate about. "But it's their hunt and their animal and they pay me to capture their moment, so I don't argue beyond tellin' them that I think those scars and things are awesome." He grinned as he pumped his fists. "Mostly though, I hunt for the meat. Stuff my freezers right full of wild game. Mmm-mmm."

Remy took note that the fox had went under his truck and was apparently shifting back. He arched a brow at this for he made every effort not to shift back in confined spaces and preferably not in public areas. Indecent exposure being one of many risks. But that was the fox's choice and there was nothing for him to do about it. Though he kept a watchful gaze on the beast under his Colorado, he posed his question to Fletch.

"So you mentioned a band, are you with Alex then?" Shuffling the lollipop to the other side of his mouth, Remy scratched thoughtfully at his beard. She had told him that her and a few others like her were considering moving into Larkspur, but at The Cage he overheard her mention a move to Red Rock. If this was her joint he would be even more thrilled again.
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#20
Fletch nodded along with a keen interest as Remy spoke of his profession. There was a certain joy in listening to someone talk about their passion, and to hear Remy divulge just this small chapter of knowledge with such enthusiasm suggested that a true craftsman of the trade stood before him. By the end, he was grinning too. It felt impossible not to.

'Davidson?' Fletch pulled the lollipop out from between his teeth and hovered his hand at her approximate height, '- so big, twiggy, brows on steroids? Aye.'

He might have gone on, but there was some constipated noises coming from where he'd last seen the fox which interrupted his flow, his expression twisting to one of faint exasperation. A glance toward the garage confirmed his worst fears before he motioned for Remy to hang fire; hooking the hose on the van door as he reached into his back pocket and fired off a couple of messages to Alex.

Once he had his reply a minute or so later, he caught the other man's eye; lifting his phone to indicate the brief conversation that had just transpired. 'Speaking of, she wants us to bring her indiscretion over there,' he said, jerking his head toward the mid-flow shifter, partially hidden behind Remy's truck.
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#21
His bones began to extend shaping themselves into the correct ones for his human form. The snout shrunk and began to morph back into his human face. Fur on the top of his head began to soften and thin out into hair.
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#22
He knew her only as *Alex* his aquarium-friend and now more recently as bear-ball-buster, but as Fletch described her, Remington grinned and nodded. "That's the one." He laughed. That this was not just Alex's band but Alex's band came as no surprise to him. He had sensed from the day he met her that the woman was possessed of some notable strength and presence. It seemed fitting to him that she should be heading up the coyotes.

Remy glanced toward Fletch's phone and raised his brows. "Oh?" He glanced toward the fox-turning-man under his truck. Hummed for a moment as he considered how they might do that. There was no one around for now but this was a service station off a main drag. Some member of the public could happen by at any time. "Spose we just grab him then." The faster they got that foolish person somewhere more discrete the better.

He made his move. Long swift strides carried him to the Colorado. He reached under the chassis and grabbed hold of a contorting ankle, taking advantage of the fact that in this state neither fox nor man had much ability to protest. "Come on. Out you go! Make sure he doesn't squirm back under there," he instructed Fletch as he abandoned his grip to skirt to his tailgate. Dropping it and hopping up, Remy grabbed hold of a tattered green tarp. It had blood stains and bits of hair and kind of stank.

He tossed it over the indiscretion and looked to Fletch to see if his friend was on the same page as him.
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#23
'Aye, suppose we do.'

Slotting his phone back in his jeans and rolling up his sleeves, Fletch was hot on Remy's heels. Discreetly bearing a man into the back of The Extra Mile was not a job he welcomed, but in his head he was already knitting together a few alibis in the event they were caught.

'Got it.' To the fox-boy's still prone form he hooked a foot beneath his ribs, and as though he were toeing something unpleasant out of the way he rolled him a little further out. Not a moment later Remy tossed the tarpaulin over the side of his truck. Fletch took a knee beside the problem and began to roughly bundle the half-formed kid in the tarp.

'All right there, pal?' Though he spoke beneath his breath, with the outline of a Chupa Chups lolly bulging his cheek, every word was as sharp and clear as splintered glass. 'Apologies for the manhandling. Figure it's best if me and my friend here take you some place you can finish up in privacy, aye?' He shot Remy a dark look. 'You going to come along quiet, like - or have we got to carry you like a sack of taters?'
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#24
He gave a terrified half yip half gurgle as his ankle was grabbed and he was roughly yanked out from under the truck. No!! But then he was being covered, and bundled up, rather forcibly under a smelly tarp. Blood hair, dead animals. He probably would have bolted, or at least tried to, if one of the men hadn't spoken.

They were going to take him somewhere safe? He cut off the next squeak of terror and somewhat stilled himself as his legs snapped back into place and his front paws began the breaking and shifting of turning back into hands. He couldn't really say 'alrighty' to the question seeing as his vocal chords were currently being ripped apart as his neck began to change. So he attempted a nod of his head. Or at least as much as he could do while in the middle of turning back into a boy.
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#25
In the midst of shifting, with his limbs breaking and reforming, the fox was in no condition to be walking. "Taters it is." Remy declared with a single nod as a bit of orange-stained drool dribbled down the corner of his mouth. Noisily, he sucked back the remainder of spittle, shifted his lollipop to the other side of his mouth, and swiped his tongue across what had leaked out. Then he bent and seized the tarp-bundled shifter and hoisted him over a shoulder in a fireman's carry. Remy was mindful of his hold as the wriggling, reshaping body draped across him. "Lead the way, buddy." He hastened after Fletch, chuckling to himself as he mused about having gone from rat to pack mule.

No sooner had they turned a corner did a transport truck rumble by. Fletch's keycard soon let them into a back room where Remy dumped the fox-boy onto the floor and then lazily saluted Alex with an amiable wink. "Howdy again, miss! No bears here for me to worry about, eh?" The ever-diminishing Chupa Chups clicked against his teeth as he spoke.
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#26
Quite aware that appearances gave the impression the pair of them sneaking 'round back to dispose of a body, Fletch wasted no time in swiping Remy through to The Extra Mile's back building; glad the other man had decided to shoulder the burden. With a little luck, they could just drop the problem at Gobshite's feet and leave.

He shut the door behind them.

'One indiscretion,' he announced as Remy dumped the tarp on the floor, a grand sweep of his arm and a half bow summarising their gift to her. Then his own Chupa Chups was plucked from his mouth and offered up with a flourish. 'And the aforementioned lollipop.' A glistening, green gem on a spit-soaked paper stick. There was very little of it left.
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#27
 She wasn't really sure how to feel about any of this, when push came to shove. Yes, it was bad - stupid bad. No, she hadn't necessarily expected to tidy up other species fuck ups - especially not this early on. She stood up but stayed by the couch when she heard two sets of feet approaching the safe house, watched the door and folded her arms across her chest as she stayed stuck in place.

 "Evening, Remy - no bears, lucky you." Handling that first before she closed in and lifted a brow at the tarp, laughed a little to herself at the absurdity even if the situation wasn't very fucking funny in full sunlight. "I didn't know you were actively fellating the lollipop, it's all yours bud. " She crouched down, eyes orange in the safety of what felt like her second home, beast tall and proud.

"I got the gist from the texts but, what exactly happened?"
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#28
Fletch grinned, not a bit phased by her rejection of his gift. It returned to his mouth with a wet sort of clatter.

'Just as I told you,' he sought a chair to collapse in. The motion was boneless, all limbs, as he slouched and hooked one lanky leg across the arm. 'I was hosing a knob off my van, our mutual friend here,' Remy was indicated with a mid-air poke of his lollipop, 'gave us his business - bit of cash in the till - very nice, thank you very much, mate - and this wallaper,' he motioned at the third party, now more boy than fox, 'starts trying to take chunks out of his leg. Fobbed him off with some liquorice and a pair of links, then he gets bored and decides to go shift behind Remy's truck, more or less in full view of the main road. Arctic fox, like. White as a ruddy sheet. Might as well have stuck a klaxon up his arse, the way he was carrying on. Let all the neighbours hear what they didn't already see.'
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#29
With a final creak of bones his hands slide back into place. Human enough that he could stick his head out from under the tarp. His hair was dripping wet from the earlier soak from the hose and he turned his eyes onto the lanky man sitting drapped over the chair.

"What's a klaxon?"

He asked brightly not at all aware of the obvious trouble he was in or the small amount of tension in the air. Tilting his head back he peered up at the meal smelling man and grinned.

"Hello! Sorry about earlier."
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#30
Standing aside to let Fletch make his report to Alex, Remy could not help but laugh as the man began by offering up what remained of his Chupa Chups, and at what Alex had to say about that. "Would have picked you up one too if I had known you was handy." Remy winked, then fell quiet as Fletch entertainingly described the chain of events.

It occurred to him as he stood there that Alex' presence had a different feel to it. Remy was pretty well always grinning, but this time he was grinning in approval and in genuine happiness for her and her band. He had not detected the change down at The Cage, but that environment had been a lot for the senses to decipher and, well, he didn't exactly get to absorb the goings on before things got a wee bit out of hand.

The fox — young man, now — poked his head out. Remy had a few words in mind for the shifter, but out of respect for Alex's authority and her right to handle this, he did no more than raise a palm and cordially wave off the apology and supply an equally friendly line of reassurance. "No harm done, pal."

His lollipop was gone. Nothing but a stick now that he chewed between his molars.
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#31
 When he got to telling a story, sometimes, talking to Fletch was like a fun little word scramble. She watched the lump on their floor and kept her arms crossed, nodded along so that the other coyote knew she was paying attention. Hosing a knob off the van - which ... was that like? Gross. Her face crinkled a little, Twizzlers and sausage, something about dirty sheet- oh, it was the color of the fox.

 "It's an annoying little horn." Clearing that up before she leaned to the side to stare at the boy on their floor. "Hey, hi - Alex. So you opted to shift on the side of the fucking road in the middle of nowhere?" WHERE THERE WAS LESS ROAD THAN OPEN LAND - WHO DID THAT? She kept outwardly calm, for everyone elses sake.
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#32
With the situation in hand, courtesy of Gobs, Fletch was all too happy to sit there and watch things unfold. It felt not unlike dropping your sibling in the shit, except this time he was not necessarily the older and wiser one who ought to have known better. To her credit, she was handling this small fire surprisingly well. He was almost disappointed.

Once he had cracked the rest of the hard candy off the stick and dissolved it into oblivion, he went to dump what remained in the bin. His charmingly floral mug that absolutely didn't have a lewd hidden design was unhooked from the underside of the shelf, and the cafétiere employed to brew some coffee. If a scene was going to play out, he would watch it with a bevvy.
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#33
He turned his attention to the woman in front of him who was now asking a question. First he had a smile on his face, but as she spoke it slowly changed into a concerned frown. He was in trouble?

"I'm sorry. I was under a car and thought I wouldn't be seen from the road. "


He didn't like being in trouble. If he had still been a fox his ears and tails would have flattened and curled up between his legs.
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#34
Yikes.

 The kid shrunk in a little like a kicked puppy and she felt a wave of not sympathy but concern. Namely, for herself - for the group, for the regulars who presumably knew how to take care of their own shit like Remy and Cliff and his band of bears. She looked up briefly to Fletch and his dick mug, smirked to herself but dropped it just as quick as she looked back to the stranger on her floor.

Alright, think. Hopefully, he didn't live around here. Maybe he wasn't just one dumbass rolling through Mountainside and leaving the place a little sloppy in his wake. "Where do you live?"
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#35
"Red Rock!" Was his bright and naive reply. "I live in a little cabin up near the market! Are you the head of a group? Im soo sorry if I messed up on your territory. I already met the leader of the group that owns this place, Cliff, if you've meet him. He said it was okay for me to be here. "

He was rambling a little, if he hadn't been extremely tired from the change he might have bounced around. But gosh he felt like just laying down and having a long solid nap. Probably not a good idea to do naked and in a place he was unfamiliar with. Still a yawn escaped his mouth which he tried to stifle.
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#36
 Of course he lived in fucking Red Rock, nothing could be simple. She resisted the urge to look over to Fletch again, ran her tongue over her teeth and felt the little melodic sound of her patience cracking underfoot when the little shit had the tone-deaf audacity to talk to her about the guy who 'owned this place'.

Full stop, she yanked back the emergency brake, eyes amber as she crouched down in front of him and felt her beast bristle, all teeth, and curled lip.

 "Cliff runs the bears, little man." She didn't throw weight often, didn't want to make things into a dick measuring contest. But sometimes, it felt necessary. "He doesn't own Red Rock." Not officially at least, not now - not until they had a good long chat about it and made sure they were in agreement. "I own fucking Red Rock." Mentally she said an unheard apology to good old Cliff, kept it out of her mouth as she nodded her head towards Fletch. "We own it, rather."

 "If I say you go, then you go - one way or the other." Simple, easy to follow as she saw that she was beginning to lose him. "You got lucky that they were there, but next time that might not be the case. Next time it could be a human with a cellphone attached to their hip, it could be a vampire. So before you pass out for a good long nap, please know that this is your first and only official warning to sort your shit and put your big boy thinking cap on before you do this again."
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#37
Fletch had been sugaring his coffee when the kid blurted his defence. It brought the teaspoon to a hovering halt above his mug; stalled by the electric prickle of tension. In a few days time Cliff's place in the jigsaw puzzle of shifter politics would become apparent. There and then, it felt like a proverbial fuck you to Red Rock's newest authority. An attitude he agreed with in principle, but not when the regime posed no threat to liberty.

The spoon tipped. The last payload of sugar fell into the depths of the beverage, and the muted tinkle of china added backdrop to what Alex said next. He wondered whether Red Rock felt to Cliff like Cedar Creek felt to him, or whether their quintet lacked the gravitas to cause the phenomenon.

A question for the philosophers. He fetched another mug, and poured one out for Gobs.
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#38
He shrank in on himself feeling rather ashamed. He had thought the bears owned Red Rock, but that was clearly wrong as the woman got extremely offended over his remarks. A warning. He had done something really bad, and it seemed like the playmates were not going to be playmates with him.

"I'm sorry..."
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#39
 She watched him cower and wondered absently to herself what that said about him. Probably that he'd be picked off and eaten soon enough - again, hopefully not in their own back yard. "I don't need your apology, I need you to do better." She sighed as she turned from him, went for her mug at last. "One more time: don't let me hear about this shit again." A grim sort of finality in the words as she glanced to the closet stacked with spare clothing before going to grab him something for when he did wake.
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#40
He really wanted to slink out of there and go curl up in his bed at home, surrounded by the plushes of foxes. Yet the tired of a change was not going to let him get up and leave. His eyes were already sinking down and his head nodded off to the side.

This was not a great place to fall asleep and honestly he did not feel safe anymore, not here in this woman's space.

He was going to have to be more careful from now on.
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#41
The leader of the coyotes was brusque but what she had to say was much the same as what Remy would have provided. The young man had made a poor and dangerous choice; one that threatened not only his own safety but the safety of others. He needed to be set straight and it would hurt him none to be scared a bit over his blunder.

For once, Remy was not grinning. His expression was even a bit grave as he stood to the side, and certainly contemplative over the mention of a fellow, Cliff; a leader of another group; a leader of bears. Only a flicker of mirth reappeared as he took stock of the design on Fletch's mug. He approved; a tip of his head toward Fletch said so.

The boy was already starting to nod off as Alex graciously started to gather some clothes for him; far kinder than the dirtied tarpaulin that Remy had supplied. In no time at all, the boy would be dead to the world.

Remy looked to Alex.

"I could drop him off at his house on my way home, if you like. Asleep or awake."

Observant, he believe he had seen the cabin.
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#42
Fletch gave Alex's mug a pointless nudge as she came to collect it; quite content to keep his mouth closed and his ears open. Between Princess Red Rock and the Extra Mile's newest benefactor they seemed to have the littlest Fox Boy's immediate future all figured out, and that sat fine with him.

He raised his mug to Remy in tacit appreciation of his offer. Would have poured some coffee for him too, except for the fact he seemed ready and set to leave. Before he was roped into further shenanigans he wanted no part of, he thought it best to make an exit too.

'Be out 'front if you need me.' Was his parting comment to Alex. Remy received a nod and a firm clap on the arm in passing.
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#43
 It seemed like Fletch had scrubbed out like a surgeon prepared for open heart, thorough as could be and ready to detach. She watched him head for the door, didn't try to force him into staying to witness the aftermath. Presumably, that meant that he was alright with how the whole fucking fiasco had been handled. Good.

 "You owe me a lollipop!" She called after him when the door was nearly closed, nodded to Remy and pushed her hair back as she came back with her mug in hand to nudge the tarp with the toe of her boot. "Thanks, for all your help with this."
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#44
He opened his eyes slightly as he felt the tarp move a little. The fox didn't like it. Didn't like being here at all. But he wasn't going to snarl at the woman who could kick him out of Red Rock.
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#45
Remy's hand tapped Fletch's in return as his companion took his leave.

"No problem," Remy smiled. The soggy and bent stick the candy had been spun around was discarded to a trash bin before he knelt beside the boy, who was just about... ah. Out. Or well enough. "Gotta look after the neighborhood and all that." He winked and gathered the young man, tarp and all, into his arms. "You have my number and know where I live if you ever need anything. See you around."

Tipping his head in farewell, the man departed to his truck. The boy was laid gently in the back seat and driven to his cabin, where Remy found an unlocked door and a bed upon which to let a sleeping fox lie.

He returned home then.
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