My thanks to Rick Coona and his alter ego, Joe Martelle, for their kind permission to write this story in their universe. Their comments and encouragement have been instrumental in bringing this story to life.

George Woodrow 4 - 2009

Kassir Ujinkhan, Joe Fenris, Carol Fenris, Jeff Salters, Michelle Musteline, George MacInnes, Tim Johansen, Bill Richards, George Leonis, Phil Leonis, Leona Felis Leonis, Lynne Smyth, Michael Pardis, Christine Uncia, Karl Ursiris, Richard Kassir Charles Procyon, Kelso Gwenwyfar Procyon, Janice Lynne Ujinkhan, Alexander Kassir Ujinkhan, Harold Hendrikson, Susan Blackstone © Chuck Percy

TigerMark, MarcBrannigan© His Player

Rick Coona, Gwen Smith Coona, Kacy "KC" Coona, Kirk Otterman, Mike Ferretti, Cassy Bhunny Ferretti, Max Badger, Kath Badger, Bill Badger, Ted Badger, Bruno, Lupé Carlotta, Panda Phil, Jo-Ann Procyon, Charles Procyon, Marcus Procyon, Jack Canus, Esmerelda Smyth, Richard Coona, Helen Coona, Max Coona, Sally Coona, Kacey Kelso Coona, Richard Randolph Coona, . © Joe Martelle

Vince Panthris, Veronica Dae Wynne, Kessira "Ghost" Tigris, Valerie Vulpes, FursList, FurMail, Dwight "Scratcher" Daniels, Molly Daniels, Clyve "Spots" Asher, Purity Spices, Janice Wyld, Albert Wyld, Lance Fenrir, Claire Kurisawa, Dwight Lupin, William 'Wild Bill' Strynger, Tymoth Edwards, Annalisa Snowpaws, Mykhail Friedrich, Geoffry Oceanis, Annette Oceanis, Sylvia Oceanis, Stevie, Cliff, Malachi, Zeke, Deke, The Children of the Pure Moon, Wylde Longstride, Reginald Blackfeather, Blake Paguma, Miz Swenson, Sylvia Paguma, Julio Vulpes, Francine Woolmyra, Zarius Zoaster Wylfgar the Third, Quinn Tallman, Lancir Concolor Pantheris, Anisu Christie, Simon Whyte, Kodi Adams, Klauss , Rusty McCloud, Kumiko Tigris, Jazmyn Panthris, Candice Panthris, Deidre Panthris, Zorin Lynxicata, Dennis 'Raix' Stringer, Jayce Terwilliger, Sid Maul, Chuckie Sweil, Luke Feriss, Dicer, Dionn Shage, Blackie Felin, Keitaro, Harry Panthris, Royce Grummand, Charity Skye, Raynor Shipping © George Woodrow 4

Any resemblance to any fur, living, dead, or imagined by anyone else is purely coincidental and unintentional.

Chapter 4 – Storm Brewing

Jo-Ann mrrs as she feels an arm circling her waist from behind when she stirs, truly amazed at how 'right' it feels to have him there. She looks at the alarm beside the bed and smiles to herself. "Half an hour until the alarm goes off. Time enough to have a bit of fun before I have to go into work." She turns over and faces Vince muzzle to muzzle, admiring the strength evident in the fur even when he's asleep, she then kisses his nose and murmurs, "Sweetie, why don't we get up a bit early and shower together?"

Vince gives an odd half-purr at the kiss, then as he opens his eyes, he smiles, "Might be an idea, we did celebrate rather enthusiastically last night. I also need to be awake when mom calls back. I think she'll wait until 9AM our time to call, but she's been known to surprise me, on occasion." He then raises a paw to caress his mate's muzzle, "And I hope our union is as full of pleasant surprises as my parents' has been."

She blushes, her muzzle fur fluffing, then nods, "Why don't we head for the shower?" Jo-Ann thinking briefly on the turmoil that had come to roost in her own family, and wondering what this latest development would bring from those who had shunned her so vehemently for her lifestyle.

Seeing the sad look on Jo-Ann's muzzle, Vince brings his hand up to bring her eyes back up to his, "No matter your past, no matter who hurt you, remember that I'm here for you now, and we'll face those that try to bring you down together with you, side by side."

Jo-Ann nods and brightens, then giving an impish giggle, she snatches the sheets from the bed and runs for the shower, her tail waving like a banner behind her, "C'mon, slow poke, we've got to get our shower done before the munchkins get up!"

Vince gives his head a shake at his mate's playfulness before giving chase, catching up to her in the bathroom, the sheets discarded in a pile by the hamper. In a display of affection, he presses her up against the back wall of the shower and kisses her forcefully, "Caught you, my love!"

She chirrs lustfully at being 'caught' and smiles at Vince, "And now what shall you do, my love?" A stray thought crossing her mind, "He might not have Kass' training, but, damn does he have me aroused already. I feel I'm going to need Kass' help explaining everything to him, but I also feel that Vince will not have any problem being my 'Pirate Captain' any time I need a bit of stress relief."

He smiles, then turns on the water, "Oh, make sure my lovely mate is fully clean, including all those 'hard to reach spots'."

Once the water reaches a good temperature, Vince guides Jo-Ann under the stream of water, filling his hands with the soap. He's learned that he really enjoys the activity of washing the lithe and lovely femme that is his mate, watching her reaction as he teases her with where he applies the soap, "Where shall I start first?" he muses aloud, teasingly.

Jo-Ann shivers at her mate's touch, enjoying the feel of him washing her, as well as enjoying putting her hands all over him as she reciprocates the favor, "Wherever you desire, my love."

Vince purrs, then wincing only a little, gets on his knees, placing his muzzle on a level with his mate's waist, "I think I'll work my way up, how's that sound to you?"

He then gently places the tip of his muzzle against her Mons, his tongue sticking out and covering the very finely furred outside of his mate's sex, a rumbling purr drawn from him as he realizes she's already wet down there. "I wonder what brought this on? I know it's because of me. I'll ask later, once we're less distracted."

Giving a startled gasp of pleasure as she feels Vince's muzzle pressing against her sex, Jo-Ann places her hands on the small ledge where small things can be set, bracing herself as she widens her stance in eagerness and invitation, letting the water run down her body as she looks down at her mate. Suddenly a flash of a vision startles her, a view of nearly the same situation, but the bathroom looking much more luxurious and a sense of humidity, and a brief glimpse of an envelope with the words, 'Happy Honeymoon' scrawled in an unknown fur's handwriting laying on a bedside table. The vision evaporates when she feels her mate's tongue parting her outer lips, her hands now coming to rest on Vince's head, her fingers clenching his head fur in pleasure as she wordlessly encourages him in his actions.

Feeling her fingers tangling in his hair, Vince purrs as he extends his tongue deeper into his mate, his hands coming up to part her outer lips and allow easier attention to the treasures within. He also feels the stirring of his maleness as he catches Jo-Ann's scent, and tastes her heat. Once he finds her clitoris he concentrates more of his attention on the sensitive organ, but does not neglect the rest of her sex.

Jo-Ann gives a squeaking 'chirr' when she feels her mate find her clitoris, her hands grasping harder briefly before simply holding herself upright as her knees get weak with the feeling of pleasure washing up her body. Each jolt of pleasure that she feels bringing forth a contracting of her hands and a tremor through her body, her eyes closing as she lets herself enjoy the pleasure her mate's bringing to her.

Vince smiles to himself, letting his purr vibrate his muzzle against Jo-Ann's sex as he deftly licks, his hands bracing her legs as he feels her quivering, enjoying the tastes he gets with each. Encouraged by his mate's actions, he concentrates more on her clitoris, engulfing it in the tip of his muzzle, then briefly sucking at it, before using the raspy nature of his tongue to its full extent, seeking to bring his mate to a climax before joining her in pleasure.

Spasming at the feel of her mate's lips on that sensitive place, Jo-Ann's fingers clamp tight on the fur they're holding onto, her legs shivering as she rides the wave of pleasure Vince is paying to her, the feel of the rough side of his tongue bringing her to her peak with spectacular results. Her legs clamp tight against Vince's head as she clings to the wall to the best of her ability, the wave of pleasure locking her muzzle around the yell of pleasure she feels building.

Once released from the peak, she looks down at Vince and says, "Come up here, my love, and let me reward you for that magnificent effort."

Vince smiles at his mate's 'command', then with a minimum of effort, stands up, revealing his maleness standing at full erectness, the sheath pushed out of the way. When he stands up, his penis rests so the tip just snugs into the underside of her cleavage until she gets her feet more under her. He smiles into her eyes, "The effort isn't done yet, my love, if you're willing and ready?"

Jo-Ann grins, then nods as she strokes his maleness, enjoying the feel of it, and knowing it combines what she loves about both feline and raccoon features, and quite ready to feel it within her. She then murmurs, "Let me have it, my love." "I only wish I could give you cubs right now, my handsome hunk, but that will have to wait for our honeymoon."

His hands gripping Jo-Ann's tush, Vince gently guides his maleness into her sex, enjoying the feel of his mate around him, the difference in their heights just enough to make things interesting. Once he feels his mate's comfortable, he starts making love to her, his hands full of her ass as he thrusts the length of his maleness within her, feeling her legs wrapping around his waist and her arms around his neck, her breasts jiggling slightly as they're trapped against his chest. Each thrust partnered by a pleased growl from both partners as they let themselves go in this show of shared pleasure.

Closing her eyes as she feels her mate plowing her deeply, Jo-Ann grins, enjoying the feel of him pressing her tight against the wall, even though she knows he could support her even standing straight up, this position allowing him to penetrate deeply, the tip of his cock kissing her cervix enticingly with each full stroke. She the murrs, "Give it all to me, my love, don't hold back," in as close to her 'victim' voice as she's gotten out of role-play. This draws a note of surprise in her inner thoughts, but it's forgotten as she feels Vince thrusting harder and faster, the sensations bringing her more pleasure as well, the feel of her nipples brushing against his chest fur only adding to the pleasure that she derives.

Vince, hearing Jo-Ann's words, growls hungrily and gently takes his mate's neck in his muzzle, not biting down at all, but holding it there as he mates with her, his cock driving deep and true within her as he strives to bring himself to completion, and bring his mate there as well.

With a shriek of pleasure, Jo-Ann clings to her mate as she climaxes once again, her body clinging to his as she shivers with reaction, her sex milking at his cock as she rides his thrusts hungrily, waiting to feel his seed erupt within her.

He growls at this, his climax triggered by the feel of hers, the feel of her vaginal walls tightening rhythmically around his cock driving him over the edge, his balls emptying his seed into her waiting womb in spasming jets. Vince closes his eyes as he trembles with reaction, his thick tail swishing behind him as he slowly releases Jo-Ann and lets her feet touch the shower floor.

Opening his eyes he finds her looking at him with a smile, "Honey, you keep that up and we may have to speed the wedding up." The raccoon femme then caresses Vince's chest, "But we can talk more about that after we've washed up and gotten dressed for our days."

Vince nods, "Fair enough, My Love, and since I was so terribly rude and got you messy, I'll help you clean up first." He then gets a paw full of shampoo and begins soaping Jo-Ann's back, taking pleasure in this simple act of mutual grooming.

Jo-Ann grins at this and soaps up her front, making sure to remove any lasting legacy of their love making, a predatory smile crossing her muzzle as she ponders the best moment to take herself back off her birth control. "I think I'll time it for our wedding, so that any honeymoon we go on will be extra special."

Gathering more shampoo, Vince works his fingers through the fluff of Jo-Ann's tail, grinning as certain spots cause the femme to briefly stand on her tiptoes in reaction. One such spot being right above the base of the tail on her back, but he doesn't linger over any one spot for too long, since he knows they've used up their 'fun time' already this morning.

Smiling as she turns to face her mate, Jo-Ann looks into his eyes, "And what, exactly, do you have planned for today?" While waiting for the answer, she lathers up his chest, enjoying the feel of his muscles under her fingers.

Vince kisses Jo-Ann's nose, "Talking to my mother, for one. Then I have a few chores I need to run, including buying a few supplies I need. I'm also going to be stopping by one of the local music stores that I know carries a lot of the music I had already, and start replacing some of what got trashed."

Jo-Ann nods, "Keep in touch, please. We know there's a bunch of dim bulbs out there who want a piece of you." She finishes soaping his chest, while rinsing off her back, "I've got to get dressed for work. You finish up in here and get ready for your day."

Nodding, he gives her a soft kiss before watching her get out and dry herself off. He then shakes his head, reminding himself that he needs to finish up in here so he has plenty of time for everything he needs to do, "And if I know my mother, one of those stops will be to pick up Grandma Pantheris' engagement band. It may need to be resized to fit Jo-Ann, but I know mom wants it to be passed down to the next generation."

Giving her tail a flick, Jo-Ann stands in the fur dryer, feeling the last vestiges of dampness leave her fur, her eyes glancing at Vince through the shower door, a delighted smile plastering itself on her muzzle as she watches him rinse himself off, "I wonder what our cubs would look like. Probably take more after the 'coon side, being three quarters raccoon. I just know he'll be a good father."

She then exits the bathroom and enters the bedroom, pulling together her outfit for the day, talking to herself out loud as she does so, "All right, let's see. I didn't hear of anything that should take me out of the precinct today, but I should be prepared anyway." She gathers a smart looking outfit that could work on a stake out if needed, dressing a bit more warmly as she remembers the forecast calling for colder temperatures, with a chance of light precipitation, "It's bloody Seattle, that 'chance' is a guaranteed part of their everyday routine. I wish those furs on the radio station would show a little imagination in describing the forecast."

Vince pads into the bedroom, catching Jo-Ann half dressed, and smiles, getting his own clothes out for the day. He picks out an outfit suited more for comfort and ease of motion, while also able to hide the armor he wears whenever he leaves his home. That last thought causes him to pause, briefly, then smile as he adjusts his knee brace so that it doesn't damage the fur underneath it, "This is my home, wherever Jo-Ann happens to be." He then adjusts each section of the armor so it doesn't show itself through what he's wearing.

Jo-Ann pauses to watch Vince put on his armor, smiling at him as she does so, "You ever going to tell me why you spent so much of your pay on that stuff? I know it's not cheap, as I've gotten catalogs with it in there." She's finishing putting herself together, adding little touches of makeup to her lashes and lips.

Turning to face Jo-Ann, Vince smiles, "Partly it was due to advice the captain of my old precinct gave me. Captain Zorin Lynxicata mentored me when I joined the force, showing me a few of the ropes before partnering me with Detective Kodi Adams, who taught me a lot more about what being a patrol officer meant, especially in some of the rougher neighborhoods."

Perking her ears at the names mentioned, Jo-Ann thinks briefly, then stares at Vince, "You were partnered with Cannonball Kodi? I met him once, when I was working the border between our precincts. We teamed up to take down a rather nasty den of fur traders."

Vince nods, "I was on medical leave for that, unfortunately. I had been chasing a perp, a scrawny waste of fur by the name of Dennis 'Raix' Stringer." Closing his eyes, briefly, "I had been chasing him down through a series of alleyways, and caught up to him while he was attempting to climb a ten foot chain-link fence. Problem was, I landed badly, taking him down, because his struggles threw me off balance, and I ended up dislocating my right kneecap and tearing the meniscus." He unconsciously rubs his knee, as he remembers the pain, "Fortunately, back-up was moments behind me, and Stringer got put away for a while."

Jo-Ann moves so her hand can cover his, "But that wasn't when you started wearing the armor."

Smiling at his mate, Vince nods, "No, I'd been wearing it since about my first year on the beat. I'd bought pieces as I could, and somehow, within a month or two of me doing so, someone would always try to take me out of their way by attacking the newly armored area." He then points to a spot on the chest armor, "This was all that stopped a bullet that went through my vest. Missed the Trauma plate entirely, and if I hadn't been wearing it, I wouldn't be here right now. That was what convinced me to get the entire kit, no matter the cost, or how long it took to do so."

Blinking, Jo-Ann looks at the spot and sees a bit of damage there, then smiles at her mate, "Can I ask you what may seem to be a strange question?"

Vince nods, "You can ask me anything, my love."

Jo-Ann blushes, then looks into Vince's eyes, "When purchasing the pieces, did you ever get a 'feeling' that the piece you were looking at was what you'd need soon, as if something was warning you that you'd need extra protection there?"

Tilting his head to think, Vince ponders his mate's question, "Not that I can actively remember, though I do recall that prior to each purchase I had noticed a small feral fox in my neighborhood, but that's the only thing that stands out to me, right now."

She nods, then adds the final touches to her outfit, "See you tonight, my love?"

Vince nods, "Most definitely, my love. I will be counting the hours until I see you again."

Jo-Ann blushes, then goes about getting the cubs ready, "Vince, can you take Richard and Kelso to school for me?"

He smiles as he exits the bedroom, which draws a giggle from the twins, "Certainly, Jo-Ann. I know where it's located, and it's close to where my first stop of the day is anyway."

She kissed Richard and Kelso good bye, "You be good today."

Richard nods, "Yes mom."

Kelso hugs Jo-Ann hard, "You be careful mom."

Jo-Ann hugs her children, then Vince, then heads out the door, grinning widely as she heads down to her car, "Something tells me this day is going to be extra special."

Vince looks at the twins, "Okay, you two have breakfast yet?" Receiving nods in the affirmative, he smiles, "Fair enough. Let me grab a pastry and we'll head down to my car and I can take you to school." He makes a quick trip into the kitchen and grabs a foil-wrapped package of Pop-Tarts™ before gathering the two cubs up and, making sure he has his keys, locks the apartment up.

Richard and Kelso start chattering about what they expect to learn in school today, Richard looking forward to the math section and Kelso looking forward to what new books the teacher might have for her.

Upon reaching the floor of the parking structure where he had parked, Vince looks out of the opening door, checking for anything that doesn't look right, "All right, kids, my car's over this way." He then leads them to 'Black Beauty', noting with a grin that Jo-Ann had transferred the seats he'd need for the kids over to his back seat. Unlocking the door, he gestures for them to enter the car, "All aboard the midnight express."

Richard is looking over the car intently, "This is a cool car, Mister Panthris, but why's the wheel on the wrong side?"

Kelso giggles, "I think I know. I think this car's special."

Vince nods as he buckles the twins in, "Kelso, you are right, this car is special. You know the country Australia, right?" Receiving two nods in the affirmative, "Well, someone brought this car here from over there, and there they drive on the opposite side of the road from what we do. Ask your teacher about that, I'm sure she knows."

After double-checking to see that the twins are secure in the back seat, Vince settles himself in the driver's seat, then turns the car on. With a bass rumble, the car comes to life, lights coming on as Vince checks his mirrors and checks for incoming traffic. He then carefully puts the vehicle in reverse, backing slowly out of the spot, mindful of the other vehicles around him. Once free of the spot, Vince shifts into first and heads towards the route he was taught, knowing it was likely the best and easiest route to the school. Gradually working his way through the gears, he carefully guides 'Black Beauty' through traffic, getting used to shifting lefty as well as the blind spots the mirrors leave for him.

Pulling into the school lot, Vince smiles as he sees a rather pretty lion femme watching all the cubs entering the school. When his car pulls into a 'visitor' spot, the femme comes over to him and, waiting for the window to come down, says, "Can I help you sir? My name is Miz Swenson." She then notices Richard and Kelso in the back seat, "Oh, hello you two." She then looks back at Vince, "You must be a friend of Jo-Ann's, I guess she was running late this morning and couldn't drop them off herself?"

Vince smiles, "Good morning, Miz Swenson, my name's Vince Panthris." His smile grows larger as the femme notices the twins, "Yes, she was running late, and I'm her fiancée, as of last night."

Miz Swenson's eyes widen at this news, "Well, congratulations, sir. And now let's let these two scamps get inside."

He nods, then, after waiting for the lioness to make room, slips free of the car and helps the twins extricate themselves from the car seats, "Okay you two, you study hard. Good school attitude will carry on to good attitude about the rest of your life."

The lioness grins as she hears this, "I'll be right in, you two." She then turns to Vince, "And nice meeting you, Mr Panthris. I hope to get more of a chance to talk in the future."

Vince nods, "Well, hopefully I'll be attending any Parent Teacher meetings soon enough, once Jo-Ann and I get things settled."

Miz Swenson smiles, "Have a good day, sir." She then turns to the last cubs still milling around outside, playing with bits of things, "All right, you lot, inside, now!" She then runs over to a young antelope, "Kyle, how many times have I told you never to pick up strange things? Honestly!" She then herds the children inside.

Curious as to what Kyle had been playing with, Vince pads over and sees a tennis ball that had obviously seen better days. Picking it up, he then heads back to the car and, fitting on his hands-free, makes a call, "Good morning, Mom. How'd you sleep? Good to hear. How'd dad take the news?" He laughs at the answer he gets, "Tell him that he'll get to play 'Crazy Grandpa Coon' soon enough. I just dropped her cubs off at school and figured this would be the best place to call you two." He listens to what his mother says, "I figured as much. Did you tell Candice yet?" He smiles, then grins as he hears a new voice, "Heya Sis. Yes, it's true. I finally found the femme of my dreams. Oh? Congratulations then, sis. When's the date? Okay, September Nineteenth, Twenty Ten, huh? Going for a Fall wedding, Sis? We haven't set an official date yet, but it does look like we're aiming for a December wedding. No, nothing as silly or stupid as a Christmas Wedding, but we both adore the snow."

Taking a moment to find the charger for his phone, Vince asks, "Any plans on making me 'Uncle Vinnie' once you two are settled? Oh? Really? That's terrific news. How's mom taking it? True, true, and now she'll have lots of grand kits to spoil rotten." Switching ears he says, "Hope I get to meet your beau sometime soon, sis. I used up most of my leave time when I was rehabbing my knee, so serious vacations are out this year. I'm doing better, now. New precinct's full of good furs, just like the old one. Just didn't need a new Evidence fur at my old one. Yah, my job's keeping track of all the boxes of evidence that come into the precinct. I like it, and apparently I'm pretty good at remembering where things that don't fit in the boxes are kept. Yes, it is mostly alphabetical, by year, but sometimes odd shaped stuff gets put wherever it fits best. Too right. Well, tell mom I'll speak to her later, I've got a few chores to take care of. Be well, sis." After hearing his sister's farewell he disconnects the call.

Pulling out of the school parking lot, Vince goes to the right, heading for one of the larger banks in the area, and once safely in the parking lot, heads inside. Once there, he gets the attention of one of the bank managers, "Vince Panthris, here to access the box I have in the vault."

The manager, a rather tired looking porcupine, nods, "Right this way, Mr Panthris, I hope all is in order?"

Vince glances at the male's name tag, "Yes, Mr Terwilliger, I just need to retrieve something my mother put in there."

The porcupine nods, "Call me Jayce, Mr. Panthris. You've got your key, I hope?"

Nodding as he produces the small key, "Right here, Jayce, and I hope you can call me Vince."

Jayce nods, "Right this way, Vince." He then leads the hybrid to the vault, where the security fur lets them in.

Vince turns to the wall where his box is enshrined, along with several hundred others of similar size, he then places his key in the right hand key opening, leaving room for Jayce to put his key in as well.

Motioning for Vince to turn his key, Jayce turns his, then extracts the box from the wall and places it on the table at the rear of the vault.

Following Jayce, Vince smiles as he opens the box, seeing the mementos there, before retrieving a small velvet box. Once he has the small box on the table he opens it and examines what he finds within.

First thing that is visible is a yellowing note, folded delicately atop the contents of the box.

Vince carefully unfolds the note and reads the words within, "To my precious grandson, I hope one day that you find a femme who can be your partner in life and in love. When you do, I want you to use my engagement band when you propose. This ring has been passed down through several generations of our family this way, and I would dearly love for you to continue that tradition." Wiping a tear from his eye as he refolds the note and places it into his shirt pocket, he then studies the revealed ring.

Set in a ring of intertwined gold 'bands', each being no thicker than a feline's claw, is a trio of diamonds, two smaller moon shaped diamonds surrounding a larger heart shaped diamond. The way the jewels catch the available light attests to their clarity and quality.

A smile creasing his muzzle, Vince closes the box and returns the safety deposit box back where it came from, pocketing the ring box as he prepares to exit the vault, "Thanks, Jayce. Got what I needed, this time."

The porcupine nods, and with a rattle of his quills, gestures for Vince to precede him out of the vault, "Glad to be of service, Vince. And good luck."

Vince raises an eyebrow at this, then smiles, "She already said yes, this is to make things 'formal' and right."

Jayce, closing the inner door to the vault, says, "Well, I still wish you luck, Mr. Panthris, for you're about to embark on a journey that will change your life forever." He then turns to the hybrid, "And if you've found the right fur, it can be one of the most amazing adventures you can imagine." He then taps his own wedding band, in reference.

Nodding in acceptance, Vince smiles, "Thank you, sir. And may you have a great day." He then makes his way back out to the parking lot, his mind momentarily on things other than his immediate surroundings.

In an SUV parked in a nearby lot a group of scruffy looking canids is parked, the passenger, looking at the bank, pokes the driver, "Hey, Sid, i'nat the Scumbreed Fuzz dat Stevie an his crew trashed da place of?"

Sid, a purebred malamute peers where the passenger is pointing, "Sure look like him, Chuckie. You wanna call da Alpha an see wha he wan us ta do?"

Chuckie nods and quickly gets out his cell, "Boss, Chuckie here. We's lookin' at dat mixer fuzz dat Stevie got caught tryin' ta teach a lesson ta. You wan us ta play rough wit 'im?" He waits for the answer, "Right, boss. We's got Sid, myself, Luke, an Dicer in dis car. Oh? Good news, boss. Right. I'll keep my phone ready, ta keep da ot'ers knowin' where we at."

Sid then gets the SUV moving, easing into traffic behind Vince, "Tell Deamhain Faolchon that it looks like tha fuzz is drivin' Black Beauty. I'm not hunner percen sure, but it look like it."

Chuckie nods as he forwards the intel, "Oh. Boss don' like dat news. Gonna be innerestin' ta see if da fuzz know what unner tha hood."

Just then another SUV full of canids pulls in behind Sid's SUV, and a 'beep' tells Chuckie he's got a message, "Sweet, boss got sum muscle ta back us up, if'n we need it. Dat's Dionn's crew behin us."

Sid nods, keeping his eyes on the black car carrying the hybrid, "How many ot'er cars we expectin, Chuckie?"

Chuckie shrugs, "Boss say there's a ot'er crew on it way 'fer insurance purposes'. Jus in case we need help impressin' on da fuzz dat we is in charge, not him."

Sid nods, then edges closer to Vince's car, eager to follow the hybrid, and hopefully guide him someplace out of the public eye.

Vince glances up at his rear-view mirror and frowns, "What's that idiot up to? He's following me way too close." He then notices the composition of the furs in the SUV, "Great … where did I pick these guys up?" Grateful that he's put his paws-free device on his phone, he quickly dials the emergency number. "Hey, Officer Weis, it's Vince. Right, the reason for my call is that I seem to have picked up at least one tail, possibly more, filled with what appear to be canines." As he talks he makes several lane changes, each more designed to test how eager a pursuer is, "Right, just tried to see how 'interested' in me they are, and both SUVs that I've noticed have maintained their pursuit of me, despite the thickness of the traffic."

Threading his vehicle between two semis, he spots a sign for an interchange ahead, "I'm going to be hitting the interchange at the expressway, seeing if I make them do something stupid in the cloverleafs."

Guiding the Falcon through the cloverleaf interchange, Vince makes three quarters of the turns before heading perpendicular to how he was already traveling, "All right, I can say there's three SUVs, and my actions have made them a bit more aggressive. I'm currently heading to the industrial sector. Do we have anything we can set up in that direction, so we can catch these idiots?" Suddenly there's a #spack# on the passenger' side door, "Jerry? Tell them that the perps are armed and dangerous. One of 'em just took a pot shot at me." He then listens to the response, "That'll work. The warehouse where we took down that Meth lab should suit just fine. I'll be there in about half an hour, perhaps less. Give them plenty of time to set up the ambush."

Sid growls at Chuckie, "How'd ya miss 'im, ya cur?"

Chuckie growls back, "I hit da door, Sid, it jus din' do nutin to it!"

Sid growls, "Let's get this fuzz aimed where we can has a little talk wid him."

The rest of the canines in the car growl in agreement.

Meanwhile, at a rather large warehouse, there's a bevy of activity, as at least six police cruisers set up in inconspicuous places around the warehouse, several policefurs are running in and out of the building, apparently setting something inside. One fur, a Lynx by his fur and features, watches the goings on, lending a hand where he can, "Okay folks, let's get this set up so the Sergeant can get free and we can question those who are after him."

An officer runs up to the Lynx, "Officer Felin reporting, sir. We've got the building secured. Back door's ready to close once the Sergeant clears it. Word is they're pretty close behind him, but he thinks he can increase his lead at the critical moment. Captain Lynxicata, what are my orders?"

Captain Zorin Lynxicata smiles at the smaller feline, "Get yourself in there, up on the catwalk. We've got stuff for them to investigate, once the Sergeant gets clear. If they are stupid enough to leave their vehicles unguarded, I want you, if you can, to disable them. No heroics, though. If you can keep a running commentary on their actions and what sort of weaponry we might encounter, that would be enough, Blackie."

The smaller feline nods, then runs towards the warehouse, intent on being in position well before the furs in the cars get there.

Vince, having done his best to act like he's being herded in a specific direction, now heads for the warehouse, turning onto the straightaway that leads to the facility. Once lined up with the doors, he hits the gas pedal hard, causing the nose of the vehicle to 'dip' momentarily as the extra horses come into play, the normal purr of the engine turning into a healthy 'roar' of muscle car power. He quickly enters the warehouse, and careening past a few of the hazards that are set up, barrels out the other end of the building, watching the door come slamming down behind him.

Sid, and the other two SUVs behind him, accelerate in anticipation of the chase finally ending. They enter the warehouse only moments after the rear door closes, Sid's SUV stopping in the middle of the building, the other two screeching to a halt near him.

Once all three vehicles are in the building, another officer hits the release on the front door, trapping the canines inside.

Chuckie, seeing this, tries to call out, then growls, "Sid, dere's no service here. We can't call fer backup!"

All eighteen canines exit their vehicles and gather in a huddle between them, Dionn looking around, then taking charge, he being the biggest and the smartest of the group of furs present, "All right, you mangy bunch of louts! Look what not having a plan gets us! That Scumbreed Fuzz must have set this all up when we were thinking we had him where we wanted him!"

The other furs mill around at this, growling accusingly at each other, some getting a bit rough with the more lower ranking furs near them.

Dionn growls low, bringing the fighting to an end, "First things first. I want you furs to case this place, see if they left a way out. Take what weapons from the vehicles you want. Next, I want all of you back here in half an hour, less if you can't find anything."

The rest of the canines nod, then, the three drivers open up the rear hatches, revealing an assortment of clubs, knives, guns, and other less identifiable implements of 'persuasion'. They then split up into pairs and work their ways to the edges of the inside of the building, Dionn pairing up with another wolf just slightly smaller than himself.

Up on the catwalk, Officer Felin is watching the goings on, talking low into a headset attached to his walkie, "Eighteen of them, sir. All canids, as Sergeant Panthris said. They're distributing weapons amongst themselves. I see mostly clubs, but it appears there's at least six guns in evidence, two shotguns and the rest pawguns. Leader appears to be Dionn Shage. That's correct sir." He then watches them move out, "Okay, looks like they're searching to see if we left a bolt hole unsecured from this trap, sir. No one obvious left guarding the vehicles. I'm going to sneak close and see what I can do to disable them, without getting caught." He then keys off the walkie and prowls along the catwalk, pausing directly over the center where the vehicles are. Attaching a rope to the railing, he descends to the floor, where he carefully slinks from SUV to SUV, nicking the keys and laying spikes around the tires in case one of the furs has a spare. His sabotage done, he climbs back up the rope and, untying it and taking it back with him, makes for the corner near the door the rest of the force outside will be using to enter by. He then keys on the walkie again, "Vehicles disabled, sir."

Outside Captain Lynxicata is talking to Vince, "All right, that was Officer Felin checking in. He was able to disable their vehicles. He's now going to provide intel from inside."

Vince nods at his old captain, "Good to know, sir." He then turns his head to the warehouse, "How long do you think before they notice and call out?"

Zorin smiles, "I give it another twenty minutes, tops. With Dionn in charge of that group in there, I can't make a call as to what their reaction will be though."

Tilting his head at the feline, Vince nods, "Hardened felon?"

The lynx nods, "He's got a record as long as your tail, Sergeant. If we do get him, he'll be going away for a good long time." He taps his walkie, "Blackie already let us know he's got one of the firearms being carried in there, and that violates the letter of Dionn's probation."

Vince nods, then checks the time, smiling as he hears a rattling at one of the side doors. Along with a muffled cry of, "Don't shoot, I give up!"

Several officers surround the door, then cautiously open it up, revealing a single canine there, who stumbles into the bright light outside the warehouse. Two of the officers secure the canid and re-secure the door. The canid is then brought over to the captain, "This guy had a Motorola Talkabout® on him, sir."

Zorin takes the short range two way radio, which chirps shortly after it's placed on top of Vince's car. Answering it, Zorin growls, "Captain Lynxicata here, who am I talking to? Yes, the building's surrounded. Oh? Good idea, might save you some time behind bars. I want you to place all your weapons in between the cars and then move to the door your buddy just exited through. I have surveillance in position to verify if you try any funny stuff. I'll give you five minutes to comply or the deal's off."

Officer Felin hears a tone in his earpiece and turns the walkie up, "Click once if you're hearing this, Blackie." The feline clicks the mike button once. "All right, the furs in there are going to be placing their weapons in between the SUVs, I need to know if they're going to try anything stupid." Clicking the mike button again in acknowledgement, the feline stealthily makes his way to where he can observe the SUVs, and the canines.

Soon after the officer is in position, the furs making more than enough noise to mask what little noise the feline made, the group of canids enters the lighted area that their vehicles were in. Each divests themselves of their weapons, several going as far as divesting themselves of their footwear, one of them commenting to his buddy, "I knew dis was a bad ideer, Fuzz knows tricks we dun have no clue abaht." His buddy nods, "Boss know some 'dem tricks, t'ogh. Oterwize he get caught too."

Once the last of the group has divested themselves of their weapons, they head back to the side door and knock on it, Dionn barking out, "We's don what'chu wanted us ta do, Fuzz."

The door is drawn open carefully, each of the canines finding themselves targeted by a large fur in uniform, a voice from behind the row of furs in riot gear says, "Come out slowly, and single file. Paws on back of your heads."

As the canids comply, uniformed officers lead them off to one side or another, to be paw cuffed and processed, the tails of the canids indicating that they're being submissive, at the moment.

Vince watches all this from beside his car, "We got lucky, Captain. Seems that despite being stupid enough to be criminals, they're smart enough to realize that by cooperating, they'll get a lighter sentence."

Zorin nods at the younger feline's words, then says, "Well, I won't be needing you, for the time being, Sergeant. Why don't you head out and finish what you were doing before these idiots decided to make your day interesting."

Chuckling at his old captain's words, understanding that 'interesting' was meant in the 'old Chinese curse' way, "Sounds like a plan, Captain. Hope this didn't mess your day up too much." He then gets back in his vehicle, a few of the officers doing double takes when they realize the steering wheel is on the 'wrong' side.

Noticing this, Vince reaches out and nudges Zorin, "Guess they've never seen a Right Hand drive vehicle?"

Zorin shakes his head, "Guess not. She give you any problems?"

Vince shakes his head, "No, sir, other than what you'd expect for getting used to a new car. I mean, shifting lefty's a bit odd at first, and the blind spots are a bit odd, but you get used to them quickly enough."

Nodding, Zorin smiles, "Have a good day, Vince."

Smiling as he starts the car up, "You too, Zorin, and say hi to your wife for me."

The lynx nods, "Juliet will want to hear everything, once she finds out what I know."

Grinning at the memory of the petite lynxette, Vince smiles, "Well, you haven't heard everything, and the news should be on the grapevine later today, so she'll likely know before you do."

Shaking his head in amusement, Zorin simply motions for Vince to get out of the way of the rest of the investigation.

Vince quickly complies, guiding the Black Beauty through the beginnings of what passes for Seattle's 'Rush Hour' traffic, "Yerf, that took too much out of my day. Thankfully the rest is easily taken care of. Just a quick stop at a market I know, then the first surprise for Jo-Ann."

Half an hour from the station Vince keys the hands-free and calls the Precinct, "Valerie? Vince here. Yah, it's true. That's not why I called, though. Is Jo-Ann in house right now? Good! No, don't transfer me. I just wanted to make sure she was in. It's a surprise. You'll find out when everyone else does. I'll be there in roughly twenty minutes, depending on traffic. I'll see you then!" He then hangs up, a grin splitting his muzzle wide as he pictures Jo-Ann's expression when he springs his surprise on her.

# # #

Pulling into the station, Vince slowly pulls into one of the protected spots inside the motor pool. Shutting the vehicle down, he pockets the keys and locks the doors before heading into the precinct.

Valerie sees Vince enter from the stairs leading from the motor pool, a huge grin plastered on his muzzle. Shaking her head, she follows him at an easy pace.

Jo-Ann looks up when she hears Vince being hailed by a few of the other detectives and turns in his direction, "I thought you had the day off?"

Vince smiles as he gets to Jo-Ann's desk, "Well, I had a few errands to run, then I ran into a spot of trouble that interrupted my schedule."

Shaking her head at the large male before her, "Would that trouble be the eighteen canids whose paperwork Captain Lynxicata sent over here, to share with the FBI?"

Grinning fit to split his muzzle, Vince nods, "You're correct in that guess, Jo-Ann. No wonder you're a Detective," he says teasingly.

Jo-Ann looks into Vince's eyes and says, with a hint of exasperation, "Just WHAT am I supposed to do with you?"

Vince's eyes brighten, then, getting the ring box from his pocket, gets down on his right knee, looks up at Jo-Ann, and, opening the box, says, "Will you marry me, Jo-Ann Procyon?"

Her eyes widening with surprise, Jo-Ann looks down at Vince with her muzzle wide open for a few long moments. Then, with an exasperated shake of her head, she pounces the large male and says, "Yes, you silly male. I said yes in the privacy of my home, I say yes once again before our compatriots, and our friends." She then kisses him fiercely, "No matter what, Vince, I will be your wife for as long as we shall both live."

There is a rousing cheer from all the witnesses, several of the femmes wiping tears from their eyes at the emotions portrayed.

Captain Blackfeather, exiting his office to see what the noise was all about, shakes his head at the sight of Vince down on one knee still, supporting Jo-Ann as she smothers the hybrid with kisses. He then pads over to the two, smiling as they try to compose themselves, "You two will be the talk of the entire force, if you're not careful."

Both Vince and Jo-Ann blush, Jo-Ann speaking up first, "And I know what part of the rumor mill will be saying, sir. Doesn't matter to me, though. I love this male, and I plan on marrying him."

Reginald smiles, knowing that Jo-Ann is referring to the fact she had been an active lesbian for several years, "Fair enough, Detective. Just make sure your relationship doesn't disrupt things around here too much."

Vince smiles at this, "I'll do my best, sir. And I do apologize for the spectacle that just happened. I just wanted to surprise Jo-Ann and formally propose to her in front of her 'family'."

Jo-Ann blushes, hearing Vince's words, then smiles as she hugs her mate, "You certainly did surprise me, love. But I do know why you did it, and I thank you." She then looks mischievously at Reginald, "Though I bet there's going to be one massive bachelor party planned, once this news spreads."

Looking around at the rest of the males in the department, the cougar smiles, "I'm sure we can come up with something tasteful. And I'm sure the furs at Vince's old precinct will help, once they find out about what they missed."

Rolling his eyes at his captain, Vince sighs, "I'm certain I'll have to face that gauntlet, as well as whatever Jo-Ann's friends cook up, once they hear about this, sir."

Grinning, Jo-Ann simply kisses Vince, knowing the Coonas and the rest of her family will do something to welcome Vince into the group.

Reginald then looks at the couple, "Now, I've a precinct to run, and I'm sure Vince has a few other things he needs to do before you see him again, Jo-Ann."

Vince smiles, "Yes, the second half of my 'surprise' for my fiancée."

Jo-Ann blinks at this, then smiles, "You don't have to do anything special for me, love, but I also won't stop you from being who you are."

Smiling as he kisses Jo-Ann, Vince thinks over the rest of his plans, "All right. I've got all the ingredients I need for the dinner I've planned. I should have just enough time to fix it and have it ready for when she comes home. I hope the kids like it too."

Releasing the kiss, Jo-Ann looks at the ring, which is now fitted loosely on her finger, "Where did you get the ring anyway, love?"

Vince smiles, "Gran Panthris passed it down to me, to use when I proposed."

Jo-Ann tilts her head, "She won't mind me using it?"

Shaking his head, Vince smiles, "Gran was an open minded sort, didn't mind any of her cubs pairing off with those not the same species. She always said, 'Love is not bound by simple things such as species, true love is universal and all encompassing.'"

Smiling up at her mate, "Truly a progressive woman. I wish I could meet her."

Vince kisses Jo-Ann's nose, "I do too, but she passed a couple years ago, in her sleep, at ninety. I do, however, believe she's looking down on us, now, and smiling."

Jo-Ann nods, then, giving Vince a firm hug, says, "Go finish your surprise, Hon, I'm now looking forward to seeing what you've got planned."

Hugging Jo-Ann briefly, Vince heads back out to his car, seeing that he has just enough time to finish his shopping before having to pick Jo-Ann's cubs up. "Wonder if I can get them to help me set up the rest of my surprise for their mother?"

# # #

Kass stretches as he settles down in one of his frequent meditation spots in the Coona's rather spacious patio area. He centers himself, then seeks the pathways to where he normally meets his mentor. Once there, he goes about the rituals of cleansing and purifying, cleaning the residue that accumulated while he was less able to frequent this locale.

While he is putting in the finishing touches, arranging a new vine to grow up a trellis that sits to one side, he becomes aware that he is being watched. His senses tell him that the presence is benign, but curious. "Hello? Why don't you come join me? I won't hurt you."

Emerging from one of the bushes that surround the cleared area, a small feral fox peers up at Kass. ## Hello, sir. You are Shaman? ##

Kass nods, "Yes, taught by my grandfather, in the traditions he knew."

The fox nods, then scampers to one of the benches close to Kass, ## You are a teacher, as well? ##

Tilting his head as he studies the little fox, "Yes, I can teach others how to become Shaman, if they are willing."

The little fox then warily pads closer to Kass, ## I have been sent, to you, for your next student, I will be his first spirit. ##

Kass' eyes widen as he hears this, then studies the fox closer, noticing the coloration of the fox, and, with a shock, he notices that the fox has twinned tails, "A Kitsune Spirit? That is quite odd. From what I remember Grandfather saying, only truly special Shaman ever get to see a Kitsune, let alone have one as one of their spirit guides." "Is there a name I may call you by, or that you wish to be referred to by?"

The little fox's eyes twinkle in merry mischief, ## I am known as Keitaro. And I bear news for you as well, sir. ##

Tilting his head in acknowledgment, Kass smiles, "It is indeed a great honor and pleasure to meet you, Keitaro. And, pray tell, what is this news that requires such an unusual messenger?"

Keitaro grins, as only a fox can, ## No need to be so formal, sir. As for the news, it will be revealed when your new student sees me for the first time. ##

Kass smiles, "So be it, Keitaro." He then settles himself, lotus style, and looks at the little Kitsune, "Is there anything I should know about now, to prepare myself for this new student? And how shall I know this fur when I do see them?"

The little fox settles himself in Kass' lap, ## You will be introduced to him shortly, he has just made a great step in becoming a part of the family you belong to. As for preparing yourself, the only thing I have to suggest, at this time, is to prepare yourself for a fur who is quite open minded, and enjoys finding things to laugh about. ##

Kass nods, thinking, "Sounds like Vince, Jo-Ann's interest." He then looks down at Keitaro, "He has a sense of humor?"

Keitaro nods, ## Especially when it takes intelligence to appreciate the joke fully. ##

Nodding again, Kass goes about readying himself for a lengthy session of learning, "Is there anything that I should learn from you beforehand?"

# # #

Vince smiles as he pulls back in to pick up Jo-Ann's kids, seeing them bouncing on their toes excitedly when they see him in the line to pick cubs up, Richard pointing something out to his sister.

Kelso is the first to enter the car, once Vince pulls up to the designated spot, smiling at the big fur and saying, "Heya, Vince, you have a good day?"

Nodding, Vince buckles Kelso in, then turns to Richard, "Yes, you could say I had a very good day."

Richard climbs into the back as well, letting Vince help him seat himself, "What happened t' the door, Vince? Looks like some'tin' damaged it?"

Smiling at the young raccoon, Vince says, "Nothing to worry about, Richard. Just something I picked up while shopping for dinner tonight."

Both young cubs look curious at this, though they wait until Vince is situated behind the wheel, Kelso chiming in with, "You makin' mommie some'tin' special, Vince?" Richard following up with, "Is it some'tin' we can help with?"

Vince smiles at the questions, "Yes, to both. Now, I'll wait until you're done with your homework to start, and what I've planned isn't too hard to make. The only thing that I have to do immediately, once we're home, is set the meat I bought in the marinade that I'm going to create."

Suddenly the phone rings, startling all three furs.

Answering on the third ring, Vince says, "Hello? Oh, hi mom! You surprised me." Putting the phone on speaker so the cubs can hear, he smiles, "I'm heading to her condo, having picked up her kids from school." He then looks into the mirror, both checking for traffic and glancing at the kids, "Would you two like to say hi to my mom?"

Richard looks at Vince before speaking up, "Hewwo, Miz Panthris!"

Kelso giggles, "Hi there, Miz Panthris!"

Vince smiles as he takes the exit that'll lead to Jo-Ann's condo, "That's Richard and Kelso, mom. They're in Kindergarten right now..."

"Hello Richard, Kelso," comes from the phone, the voice slightly distorted by the speaker, but the kits can tell it's a femme, though her voice is roughened with age, "And, please, call me Deidre, since it seems my son has asked your mother to be his wife." There's a pause, then a male's voice comes over the speaker, "Hi kids, this is Vince's dad, Harry. We're currently in London visiting Vince's sister, but we'll be home soon enough and want to meet all of you."

Smiling, then checking the status of the lights, Vince purrs, "Hey there, pops. Yah, Jo-Ann wants to meet all of you guys as well. Might be time for a good old-fashioned family reunion, to let the clan know what's been happening."

Harry says, "Well, Candice just nodded in affirmative, so I can only guess that she wants a chance to talk to you in furson." A young sounding voice pipes in, distorted more by distance, "If my crazy twin insists on making me an aunt, it's best the whole family's there too!"

Vince laughs, "Tell Sis that I love her too."

Deidre reclaims the phone, "We'll be coming home in three weeks, son. We'll call to set up a good time to meet."

Pulling into his spot near Jo-Ann's condo, Vince nods, "Next week I get to meet her family, both parts of it … Have a lovely trip, all of you, and we should talk more often."

Over the speaker is heard, "Be safe, and stay out of trouble! See you when we get home." Then there's a click as the line disconnected.

Vince looks back at the twins, "I have pictures of my family up in my stuff. What do you think about getting your homework done then showing your mom and you guys the pictures?"

Both kits smile and nod, then get themselves out of their seats, grinning at Vince's surprise, Kelso speaking up, "Mom made us learn how t'get out, jus in case of an accident. She also say not to get out if we feel hurt or sick."

Nodding, Vince grabs his keys then locks up the car after the kits get out, leading them up to Jo-Ann's apartment, "I wonder how long it'll be before I start thinking of it as 'our' place instead of just hers?"

# # #

Knocking on the door as she and Marc enter, Lynne calls out, "Gwen? Anyone home?"

Coming out, clad only in her fur, Kel smiles at the skunkette and tiger, "Hey you two! Long time no see!" She then hugs Lynne, "Guess your calling really suits you, you look terrific."

Marc smiles as he takes his turn hugging the buxom vixen, "And how are things on the home front, Kel? We've been a bit cut off from news for a bit."

Kel smiles, "Get comfy, you two, and I'll catch you up on what's happened since I spoke to you last." She then returns to the kitchen, briefly, and brings out a tray of snack food.

Lynne's the first one finished getting herself 'comfortable' in the Coona sense, returning to the living room and settling herself on the couch, "Marc's still the chivalrous type, lets me get ready first, no matter that we'll see each other in the fur afterwards."

Marc grins as he comes up behind the skunkette, his eye patch lending him an air of roguish mystery, "Perhaps it is more that I treasure the intimacy that undressing invokes that precludes me from giving you more ammunition to tease me with?" He then settles next to Lynne on the couch and looks at Kel, "So, what is the news?"

Grinning at the byplay between the Paladin and her 'Squire', Kel covers her muzzle briefly to hide a laugh before regaining a serious appearance, "Well, the biggest piece of news is that Jo-Ann found a mate, and is engaged to be married."

Eyes sparkling in happiness, Lynne gives a gleeful 'squeep' before asking, "Who's the lucky fur?"

Shaking his head at his partner, Marc grabs a small roll of cheese, listening to Kel as she helps 'detox' both himself and Lynne.

Kel grins, "New transfer into her precinct, by the name of Vince Panthris. He's more or less swept Jo-Ann off her feet. We'll meet him this next Sunday, we're having a bar-b-cue, am I guessing I can count on both of you to be there?" Receiving two identical nods, Kel smiles, "Both Jo-Ann's dad and brother will be there also. Plus two other furs." She turns to look at Lynne, "You remember Veronica?"

Lynne nods, "Yes, yes I do. Very vivacious femme, good sense of taste and humor. Seemed to have a good head on her shoulders." She tilts her head at Kel, "She find a femme yet?"

Marc smiles, having met Veronica as well, "She's still working with Gwen, right?"

Smiling, Kel giggles, "Not sure about the first, Lynne, but from what Gwen told me there might be a possibility. As for still working with Gwen, I think that if Veronica tried to leave, there'd be a mutiny."

Grinning widely, Lynne nods, "I remember her fondly from when we moved the companies here to Seattle. She struck me as a fur who was more than a simple 'placeholder'."

Kel nods, "The last fur that I know that will be here is Kessira Tigris, Gwen's chief of Security. She joined the company right out of the Air Force, her training really groomed her for the role she assumed."

Lynne nods, "Anything special we should be aware of, with Vince and Kessira?"

Smiling broadly, Kel nods, "First is that Vince is a Cougar / Raccoon mix, and Kessira is a Tiger / Polar Bear mix." She then looks meaningfully at Lynne and Marc, "Both also have the potential to be Magickal, as well as Veronica. They also seem to be forming a rock band."

Eyebrows rising in surprise, Marc smiles, "Sounds like an interesting group. As for the other tidbit, well, after dealing with 'Sparky' here, I can tell you that Magickal folks tend to find each other, especially when there is a need."

Mock-swatting Marc, Lynne smiles, "I look forward to meeting them. Now I think Marc and I need to avail ourselves of the hot tub and then a spare bed. We need to recharge before talking to everyone."

Kel makes shooing motions, "I'll bring a platter of snacks and some Switchel, you two go relax. I'll also let Gwen know you're here."

Lynne nods, "Thanks, hon. I appreciate that." She then thinks of her Sorceress cousin, "I never imagined anything like what I've been through when I ran into her that fateful day."

Marc nods as he gets up, then offers Lynne his paw, "Shall we two depart for the awaiting hot tub?"

Grinning, Lynne takes Marc's paw and stands up, now quite comfortable with her partner, and smiling at him, "Indeed, we shall."

Kel giggles at the by-play between the two, "They might not be formally married, but they're definitely two halves of one whole."

# # #

Veronica answers the call, seeing it's coming from Casa Coona North, "Heya Kel, how's it going?" "Oh? That's good to know!" She then looks at her calendar, "Gwen will be free in about half an hour, unless these furs cause the meeting to run on."

She then chuckles, "I'll let her know. I'm sure she'll be happy to know Lynne's home." She taps the handset, "While I'm on the phone with you, is there anything I should bring for the bar-b-cue? And for Kessira as well?"

Listening to the response, Veronica chuckles, "I can do that. I'll let Kessira know as well."

# # #

Gwen, in the meeting with the furs representing just one portion of the multi-faceted complex of companies she'd inherited, grimaces as she refrains from snapping in irritation. "Some furs just can't get straight to the point."

The head fur, an older male bulldog, is going over the details on his clipboard in excruciating detail, never varying his inflection in the slightest.

One of the younger furs, a femme Saluki, catches Gwen's eye and rolls her eyes at her boss, clearly in agreement with the fact that this time could be better spent.

Royce Grummand, finishing his enumeration of all the details on his clipboard, looks up at Gwen and grumbles, "Well, that's the whole list of what my division has been doing this last quarter."

Charity Skye gathers up all the paperwork she brought, leaving the packet she'd prepared for Gwen, which has all the details Royce just said, exactly as he said it. She then stands back, letting her boss exit the office first.

Standing as she watches Royce exit, Gwen says, "Charity, could I talk to you for a moment?"

The young femme nods and waits, closing the door behind her once Royce has left, "Everything okay, Mrs Coona?"

Gwen nods, "Yes, Mrs Skye." Once the door's closed she gives Charity a big grin, "You guys holding up okay? Is there anything you think I should know that wasn't included in that report?"

Charity relaxes a bit, "Yes, we are. Mr. Grummand isn't a bad boss, and I think he'll relax soon enough. He just seems better with hard data than ephemeral concepts."

Nodding, Gwen smiles, Charity being one of the furs she hired to 'replace' Veronica, "I'm sure you're right."

Smiling, Charity taps her notes, "As for what wasn't in here, well, if we keep going the way we are, there will be several furs getting Achievement Awards for their performance."

Gwen beams, the Achievement Awards being one of the things she implemented once the companies had fully migrated to Seattle. They were a physical representation of the thanks due for doing a good job. There were several tiers of awards; General Achievements were for 'out of the box' thinking, and along with a small Plexiglass globe there was a $25 American Express Gift card; Exceptional Achievements were for taking on new challenges and bringing new talents to the company, their globe was a bit larger and the gift card was $50; last was the Global Achievement, given to furs who brought new 'blood' into the company, forging relationships with other companies, the statue that accompanied this award had the continents highlighted in bronze, and the gift card that accompanied this award was $100.

Thinking on the Awards, Gwen smiles, "And Charity deserves at least an Exceptional for her assistance in bringing Royce up to speed on how this company works."

Charity smiles at her boss, "On a more personal note, I have something I need to tell you." An impish smile cuing Gwen into the fact that it's good news.

Gwen tilts her head, "You and your husband were successful?" she asks teasingly.

Laughing, her hair shimmering in the light, Charity nods, "How'd you guess? We hadn't told anyone until we had verified with the doctor."

Grinning fit to split her muzzle, Gwen chirrs, "You've got a glow about you, hon. Any mother would recognize it, and having seen that glow on a couple friends, I can definitely say I think you'll be a terrific mother." She then comes around her desk and offers a hug to the femme, "How far along are you?"

Charity steps into Gwen's hug, "About two months, and thanks Gwen. Bill and I have been trying for a while, and we're over the moon now..."

Gwen nods, having met William Skye, a rather boisterous Skye Terrier, who's accent often got the better of him when he was excited, "How's Bill doing in his job?"

Tipping her head to the side, Charity thinks, "Well, he's happy that UPS is busy right now, keeps him engaged." She taps her muzzle, "Gives him the focus he needs."

Nodding, Gwen smiles, "Thanks for the news, Hon, now I'll let you get back to your job. We'll discuss maternity leave when you get closer to your time."

Charity grins, knowing that Gwen's company had one of the best sets of benefits for pregnant femmes and new mothers, allowing the femmes to continue working from home if they wanted to, and maternity leave usually included at least half a year of paid leave, "Have a good day, boss." She then exits Gwen's office, waving to Veronica as she leaves.

Veronica smiles at the femme, then gets up and enters Gwen's office, "Had a call for you during the meeting." She then grins at the skunkette, "Seems your cousin just got home and is now availing herself of the hot tub."

Gwen smiles at the news, "That's good news. I was worried about them, being out of touch for so long." She then shakes her head, "But I know Lynne can take care of herself, especially after all the training Kass and Marc put her through." Then, with a shake of her head to reorient herself, "It'll be good to see them again."

Nodding, Veronica tilts her head at Gwen, "Lynne's really enjoying her job, finding you new sources for spices, isn't she? I wonder what she found this time."

Smiling, Gwen nods, "She always wanted to travel; now she can, and get paid to do it." She grins at the 'cover' story that they came up with for Lynne to go off on her missions. "Doesn't hurt that she has found some really good spices, we've definitely benefited from this development." "I'm sure she'll tell me once I see her at home."

Veronica looks at the clock on her desk, "You've got about forty five minutes before your next meeting, Gwen. Why don't you go get a snack and a cup of coffee before they arrive?"

Gwen tilts her head, "Remind me who it is?"

Turning to her computer, Veronica checks Gwen's schedule, "It's Raynor Shipping."

Nodding, Gwen sighs, thinking Veronica's suggestion has merit, "Wonder what they'll bring this time." Said Shipping company always delivering a mixed bag of spices each delivery. No matter what, though, it did tend to sell well, even the oddball spices.

"Well, perhaps if it's good enough, your friend Kass can whip something tasty up with it," says the Skunk / Wolverine hybrid, remembering the meal Kass whipped up the night she met him, grinning at the skunkette.

Gwen gives Veronica a cheeky grin, then says, "Want me to get you anything from the machines while I'm there?"

Veronica hrms, "If they have any of those Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut™ Granola bars, then yes, otherwise, I'm okay."

Grinning, Gwen nods, having grown fond of the granola bars herself, "Good as done, hon." She then makes her way down to the break room, something she had insisted be put on each floor of the office building, so that furs could run for a quick snack or take a phone call away from the noise of the office.

# # #

Later that night, Veronica starts awake, panting with reaction, then grabs the pad she put next to her bed for just this purpose. Jotting down what she remembers, she tries to calm herself, "Mother of Pearl, Gwen wasn't kidding when she said I'd have memorable dreams."

First thing she jots down is the setting of the dream; We were in a Park, in a clearing, surrounded by very large trees. I'll need to check a map to see if I get an idea where this park was.

Next she jots down who she remembered being there; I saw Gwen, Rick, Kass, Kelso, Mikey, Cassy, KC, Vince, Jo-Ann, and Kessira. There were a few other furs there, but they were 'fuzzy', as if I hadn't met them yet.

She then recalls what was happening; I was marrying Kessira … I was wearing the dress, and she was wearing something that suited her. The fur presiding over the ceremony was an odd one: he seemed to be a hybrid of Badger and Ratel. We were having a non-traditional ceremony, but all the furs we loved were there for us.

She finishes the log with the time, date, and other minutia which she thinks are relevant, both from the dream and when she woke up, muttering to herself, "That's the first one."