"The Maria"
Chapter 8


By : Socks the Catt
©2003 Socks Furrotica Press
"They crouched down low, sat in the front row,
untied the rope so they could fly."
-Moxy Früvous

Rain fell steadily as Chris stretched his arms and legs.  After a night like they had so far, all the rats looked forward to a good night's sleep.  Chris stayed on the main deck longer than the others to finish the job he started, then stumbled down into the den and closed the door behind him.

"Yer not welcome here." Vermin spit out.  He was sprawled out on the floor, made comfortable by any means possible.

"What?" Chris asked.

"You heard me.  Traitor." Vermin forced out of his injured body.  "It's your fault I'm like this."  Chris stood in place, stunned.  "I told you not to come back.  Now leave."  Chris looked at the broken form laying on the ground.  Vermin looked in very bad shape.  The bleeding had mostly stopped, but Chris knew the main threat wouldn't come from Vermin, but his guards and loyal followers.  Chris took in a deep breath, and turned to leave.

"And drop your rings." Vermin labored to say.  "You're no longer a jackrat."

Chris stood, feeling all the other rats' eyes on him.  He stared at Vermin defiantly, and removed the five gold hoops from his ears.  He looked at the earrings in his claws, and threw them at Vermin's prone body.  "Choke on 'em."  And he left, his head filled with rage.

"Be grateful I'm letting you keep your clothing you worm!" Vermin called out, then he doubled over in pain.  A few other jackrats tended to Vermin as Chris left, never turning back.  He spent the next hour or more just trying to find a place to sleep.  At every turn, he was told to go back down below where he belonged, with the other rats.  As Chris wore down, the whole day began to crash in on  him.  He never felt as alone in his life as he did that night.

The Howler's door quietly opened, the mood being a little more somber than normal.  A few perked their ears and gave the intruding rat a questioning look.  Chris quietly sniffed around, and eventually found the one he was looking for.  He sat down on the floor, next to a brown dog.

Mutt groaned in resignation of being awake again.  "I've had a long night 'cha know." he said grogilly.  Then he took a sniff of the air, and turned his head while opening his eyes.  "Chris?"  He rolled over to look up at the rat.  "What are you doing up here?"

"Does that offer still stand?" Chris said, trying not to break down.  "Because, right now, I could use a friend."  Chris bit his lip, his eyes wide, breathing in short pants through his nose.

Mutt looked over Chris, and saw his earrings were gone.  He knew what that meant, Vermin had done it before, and most never recovered from the social assasination.  Mutt patted the space next to him on the floor.  "It's not much, but it's what I can offer.  Gimme a minute I can scratch up a blanket or sumthin'."  Chris shook his head, barely holding back his emotions, but Mutt looked around anyhow, and borrowed one from a pile near where he slept.  He draped it over Chris, and himself, and laid down with him.  He thought of saying something about how things changed from the previous day, but when he felt Chris quietly sobbing under the blanket, he decided that less was more.  Chris slept soundly on the floor with Mutt that night.

Robert woke up with a start, and a grin on his face.  "I know what we need to do!"  He shook Abacus awake as the sun began to rise into their window.  "I know what we have to do!"

"hmm?"  The raccoon was trying to focus his eyes through the morning haze. "mrrning Rbrt…"

Robert straddled his mate's body, and with a grin felt an erect shaft poke at him.  Quickly, Robert slid his body so his furry rump held his Mate's shaft, then lowered his tail so Abacus's whole shaft was covered.  Robert began to move his hips, placing his paws on either side of his mate for leverage, and began to thrust, giving his mate under him a furry massage on his sensitive morning erection.

Abacus moaned in pleasure as Robert used his body to stroke, but not letting Abacus penetrate.  "I know how to fix Maria!" Robert said happily.  "She showed me!"

"Mmmm…."  Abacus was soon lost in a different haze, closing his eyes and smiling.

"We need to put the mast up again, love." Robert said, increasing his pace.  "Will you help me?"

"mmmHMMM" Abacus nodded in bliss.  He spread his arms wide on the bed, and let his tail relax fully, surrendering to the feeling his mate gave him.

"I need you to help me talk the others into getting it up." Robert said with a smile, his own shaft extending from it's sheath.  "You'll help me do that?"

"Yeah…." Abacus said dreamily, nodding his head slowly.  "Oh yeah….."

"Wonderful!" Robert said, pressing Abacus's shaft tight into his fur.  "You're sure you're ok with it love?  You'll help?"

"yess!!!" Abacus moaned, his eyes shut tight as he climaxed, thrusting his body into the cat over him.  Robert purred, feeling the spray from Abacus covering his fur.  He hugged his mate as tight as he could, and licked his face and neck happily.

"Great!" he said with an upbeat tone.  "As soon as we get dressed, we can start!"  Robert hugged Abacus one more time, then gently rolled off of him, and licked his fur clean.

Abacus came down from his euphoric wake-up, and watched his tabby cat mate lick his tail fur clean.  It took a moment for Abacus to realize what had happened, and he slowly sat up in bed with an amused look.  "I've been tricked!" He said with a smirk.

"I learned from the best!" Robert said happily.  Abacus got a sly look in his eyes, then rolled on top of Robert and kissed him deeply, the two enjoying their moment.

"Tell me again why we're out here?" Ironbar said, rubbing his eyes.

"We need to get the main mast back up." Abacus said.  "Robert said that Maria needs it reattached."

Ironbar shook his head.  "It's just a mast."

"It's her body, and…"  Robert started to explain, but stopped, thinking of a better way to describe it.  "What happens when someone's arm gets severed?"

"Umm, probably a lot of screaming."  Ironbar said.  "They jump around, bleed a lot, then they fall over and…"  Ironbar stopped, seeing the black substance still on the deck.  "Oh."

"That's her… blood." Robert explained quietly.  "We need to get the mast back up, and hope she can heal herself."

"If we can't?  She'll be crippled?" Ironbar asked.  Robert nodded.  "I still don't believe you talked us into getting up this early."

Abacus smiled.  "I had inspiration."  Robert winked as a few other dogs slowly came up from below deck.

They spent several hours gingerly coaxing the mast back up, matching it into the stump like a jigsaw puzzle.  Dice and a few others worked small miracles with the wood to get it to sit just right.  As the ropes were being tied down to hold the main mast up, Dice and Robert were talking about how to reinforce the wood.

"It only needs to hold for a few days." Robert said.  "After that we should be at the island and we'll be out of danger!"

"We don't know that for sure." Dice said.  "We could be out here for weeks 'er more, it needs to be sturdy enough to last for a while.  How do you know we'll make landfall?"

"I know." Robert said softly.

Dice was physically taken back by the silent answer.  "Ok." he said.  "Umm, then we need some boards.  I'll start breaking down benches.  We need some rope. to fasten it, and we need to make sure that the knots hold this time."

"I got rope."  Both turned to see Chris, holding a coil.  He was dressed in the light clothing of a Howler, not the usual Jackrat black.  "How much?"  Dice pointed to the mast.  Chris eyed it, looked at the coil, and bit through the entire circumference of rope in one chomp.  He handed the remainder of the coil to Dice, smiled, and walked back to the tie down work.

"How did he do that?" Robert wondered.

"Never mind that!" Dice said, tying off the ends.  "I'm not letting a rat give me a suck ever!"

Yars walked onto the main deck to Ironbar.  "I'll need guards on duty, to keep anyone off the knots and keep an eye on the main mast.  She falls again and I don't know if we can recover this fast."

Ironbar nodded.  "I'll get the blades out.  It's not going to be easy splitting guard duty between the prisoners down below and the mast."

"I've been thinking of that." Yars said.  "I would like you to come down with me if you can, and I need a few of your men."

Captain Langley looked at the wall with a smile.  Progress had somehow accelerated since the storm last night, the wood must have been weakened somehow.  The remaining crew huddled around that wall, hiding it's progress from the guards outside.

"Captain Langley." a voice bellowed out.  The tiger walked in full of confidence.  "I need a word with you."

"We have nothing to say to each other."  Langley said.

"We do now." Yars said.  "I need to talk about you future."

"What future?  You're going to serve us by threes now?"  Langly snapped, standing at the edge of the invisible wall.  "If it wasn't for this wizardry you somehow have in place here I'd teach you a lesson."

Yars stood back, and spread his arms.  "You're more than welcome to me."

Langley lurched forward, then stopped.  "Oh no." he said.  "You won't get me to fall for that.  It will probably injure me or worse."  Langley stepped back.  "Find another patsy."

Yars sighed, and stepped into the cell to the astonishment of the Pirates.  "How about now, Captain?" Yars said.  Langley stood in shock, then jumped at Yars.  Yars side-stepped the attack, throwing Langley to the ground.  "Save it." Yars said sternly.  "If what my crew is correct, you'll need your strength in two days."

"Why?" Langley said, getting up to his knees.  "Is there some kind of a fight?  A game?"

"Your freedom, if you want it." Yars said.  "There's a crew member I want you to meet."  Yars left the cell, and motioned to the door.

A small Jack Russell Terrier walked in, a spring in his step.  "Mornin' Captain!" he said to Yars.  "Captain!" he said to Langley."

"Who is this?" Langley asked, wiping the dirt from his coat.

"You knew him as…  Pete?"  The terrier nodded.  "Pete.  He's now known as Bullseye to the Howlers.  He was one of your crew members."

"This?"  One of the officers behind Langley spoke up.  "This was one of our crew?"

"Oh, yes Sir!" Bullseye said cheerfully, his accent clear, but his voice was slightly different, higher in pitch.

"And how are we supposed to believe that?" Langley asked.

"Well," Bullseye said, counting off with his fingers.  "You hired me in London with 'im over there, then we sailed to India where we stayed off the coast taking three ships.  You were really quite fond of that one lady with the Captain on the second ship, if my recollection is right, mighty fine bird.  Then we sailed to Italy where we pillaged another ship or five.  And we were on our way back to England when you found the Maria here and decided to fight her before heading home.  You were SPECTACULAR Sir with the orders to man the cannons!"

The crew looked at the Terrier with a strange look, then a few murmurs.  "I can also bring you to several other members of your crew." Yars said.  "As many as it will take to prove to you they're all alive."  The tiger paused a moment.  "Except one."

"Who?" a man asked behind Langley.

"One named Eric?" Yars said.  The others looked around nervously.  "The main mast was struck by lighting last night.  I'm sorry to say Eric didn't survive."

Langley looked at Bullseye, and walked towards him.  Bullseye looked up to his old captain, happy to see Langley again.  "Yes Captain?"

"I can't really believe that's you." Langley said.  "We thought you were eaten."

"No Sir!"  Bullseye smiled a wide grin.  "Well, not that way."  He chuckled, as everyone around him shifted nervously.  "It's nothin' really, just a change of scenery, and a lot of enjoyment on the new ship with my new ship mates."  Bullseye wagged his tail happily, facing the tiger.  "Captain?  If'n it's not too much trouble, I need to get back up top to help on the tiedowns."

"As you were, thank you Bullseye." Yars said.  The terrier turned to leave, and the tiger looked to the men in the brig.  "In a few days we make landfall." Yars said.  "I'm going to offer you something that not many others get when they board this ship, a choice.  You are free to walk the ship, you are free to leave the ship once we make landfall.  If you choose to leave the Maria, I will personally see to it that your weapons are returned, you will receive enough money to buy a new ship of your own, and you will be free to live your lives as you wish."

Yars let this sit a moment, before continuing.  "If you wish to remain on board, however, you will need to know what you are getting into."

"So are we going to become dogs?" a crewman asked with a little spite.

"I couldn't tell you." Yars said.  "I became this.  But, rest assured, if  you stay you will change, as we all have.  I can bring you to a few of your former crew members, and they can explain the rules of the ship to you."

"What's to say we don't kill you now," Langley said, "Hijack the ship, and go sail it to port?"  Several of his crew let out a vocal agreement.

Yars flexed his paw, and his sharp claws flashed in the light of the cells.  "Because you have no weapons." Yars said flatly.  "And everyone on board the Maria DOES." Yars smiled.  "You are free to walk about the main ship areas, don't try to do anything rash.  If you wish to help us, it would be appreciated but not expected."  Yars then turned, tapping Ironbar on his way out the door.  The guards left with Yars and Ironbar, and left the Pirates to themselves.

Ten minutes later, a pirate cautiously poked his head out of the cell, then the brig, then down the hall.  "I think it's clear, Captain."  The Pirates walked up to the top deck to see a crew filled with a menagerie of animals in human clothing.

"Unbelievable." Langley whispered to himself.

"Captain Langley!"  The Pirates turned to see a black and white cat approaching them.  "Good to see you're out here!  Are you here to help?"

"Do I know you?" Langley asked.

"You're the one who hired me and Jason!" the cat snickered.  "I'm James!  But I go by Treble now."  Langly looked at him with a disbelieving look.  "I know, I looked at Jason the same way.  We call him Smoke now."

"He's still alive too?" Langley asked.

"Yes!" The cat said.  "Sorry I couldn't get you out sooner, but when I heard what was going on I knew it was for the better."

"Why?  What's going on?" Langley asked.

"Do you know the rules?"  Langley shook his head.  The cat nodded to his former captain.  "They're all wonky right now, but if you've got a minute I'll tell you."

Yars walked out to the deck, and took his jacket off.  It was almost noon by now, and several members of the crew had wondered what was going on.  He saw Kyle, his first mate, and waived him over.  He handed his jacket to the squirrel.  "Take this and put it in my quarters."

"Yes Cat'tain." Kyle said.  "Why?  What are you doing?"

"Leading my men."  Yars patted Kyle under his tail, and Kyle ran off to perform his captain's order.  Yars walked up the stairway, slowly, deliberately, causing the crew to silence themselves.  Yars looked at the repaired mast, and smiled.  "I have to admire you all." he said, his voice carrying to the whole ship.  "Considering what happened last night, this is truly amazing.  For all of you that helped, I want to thank you."  Yars clapped a few times, and the crew joined him in a round of applause.

"Now I want to tell you what's happened." Yars said, leaning against the rail on his paws.  "Last night we were struck, the mast went, and Maria was hurt in the incident.  I'm sad to say that we lost a new crew member last night as well.  His loss, as tragic as it is, will not in vain.  Because of his passing, we know that things had changed drastically.  Obviously, Maria's protection is gone for the time being.  It is because of this I am going to urge extreme caution for the next few days."

Yars stood up, and surveyed his crew.  "According to our navigators, we are about three days sail from an island that Maria has docked at before.  Maria has agreed to something that is unprecedented."  He looked at Captain Langley as he spoke.  "Maria will let is all disembark.  And it will be optional to come back aboard."

The crew murmured quietly, this was unheard of for even the oldest crew members.  Yars let them do so for a moment.  "She is doing this to thank us for our services, and so she can repair herself in a protected harbor without worrying about our safety.  We will also take the time to bury our crew member when we make shore, an honor that not many receive."  The crew nodded.

"Our navigators say we can sail there in three days without the main sail.  Now I hope you boys can remember how to sail this ship, I know it's been a while!"  Several crew members let themselves laugh.  "I need each of you to reach down and pull out more than you are for the next few days.  I have faith in you all, because you are the finest crew on the seas.  I believe we can make it in two days, at MOST."  The crew nodded.  Yars reached into his back pocket, and tied a bandana on his head like the other deck crew wore.  "Let's lower the sails men, we have an island to find."  The crew cheered as Yars jumped down to head towards one of the ropes for the mast.  He was joined by several others, and the forward sail was slowly lowered.

Ten minutes later the sails were all down.  Yars felt good getting back down on the deck, doing some of the grunt work with his crew.  He patted one of the jackrats on the back and walked over to Robert.  Yars discreetly pulled him to the side.  "Are you the one who sees visions?"  Robert nodded nervously.  "I've heard of you before, but never met you.  I need to ask you something you may not be able to answer."  Robert gulped and nodded.  "What will happen to Maria once we make landfall?"

Robert thought a moment.  "I don't know." he said.  "She doesn't show me everything.  She just told me that the mast had to go back up, or she'd die, like Silver was going to die."

Yars nodded.  "I understand."  he patted Robert on the shoulder.  "I have one other favor to ask you."

"Yes Captain?" Robert asked.

"I need to find anyone qualified to work with medicine." Yars said.  "Vermin is hurt badly, and he needs someone to look after him.  I was hoping you would know someone who could help or could find someone for me."

"I can do that." Robert said.  "I worked in herbs and medicines before coming on board.  I never needed to do anything once I got here, but I can see what I can do."

Yars nodded.  "Thank you.  If you would help him, I would appreciate it."

Robert nodded, then wrinkled his muzzle.  "Why?  He's a jerk."

"True." Yars said.  "But he's also a jerk on my crew, and my responsibility.  It doesn't matter if I like him or not, he's still my responsibility."  Robert shook his head and wrinkled his muzzle, but agreed.

Chris was on the highest rope on the ship, the aft sail, hanging over the post looking forward, enjoying the wind in his face.  The jackrats took the front sail, and he decided to avoid conflict all together.  He was also enjoying the feeling of new clothing, and how much lighter he felt once he got out of his old leather and metal stuff that Vermin told him to wear.  For now, at least, life was good.  Silver was up with him, looking out as well.  Silver turned to look at Chris, and twitched his ear once.  "Chris?  What happened to your ears?"

"I know, it looks bad." Chris said.  "They haven't healed up yet from pulling out my rings last night and with Maria being hurt and all…"

"No," Silver said.  "They're smaller."

Chris blinked, and put his claws to his ear tips.  He almost lost his balance, but Silver caught him.  "They're smaller." he said, then he laughed.  "They're smaller!"  He turned around, and looked at his tail, counting the segments.  "5, 6, 7, 8, 9...  My tail is shorter too!  My tail is shorter!  You know what this means?"

Silver helped Chris back up to the rope, and backed away in jest.  "You're suffering from a strange form of leprosy that makes your ears shrink?"

"NO!" Chris said with joy.  "It means I was never meant to be a rat!  This is great!"  Silver tried to calm Chris down, and managed to do so after a moment.  He pointed to the deck, and the two went down to talk.  Once they got there, Chris danced around in a circle happily, holding Silver's paws as he did so.   "I'm not a rat!  I'm not a rat!" Chris sang as he danced with Silver.

Silver tried to figure this out, and let himself be twirled around like a rag doll for a few verses of this.  Finally Silver asked "What are you talking about?"

Chris was grinning like an idiot.  "I thought it was a myth!  Vermin is promised a certain amount of Jackrats to him, right?"  Silver nodded, not knowing this at all.  "Vermin is the one who can make Jackrats, and it's always been rumored that if he fucks you that no matter what you started out to become you become a rat, you see?"

Silver nodded slowly, not really following.  "Ok, so why are your ears shrinking?"

"Don't you see it?" Chris said happily  "It means that I might become human again!  He fucked me a day after I got on board, and he's fucked me other day since!  And now that he's not fucking me, his little magic trick is wearing off!  I'm going to be normal again!  I'll be my old self!"

"Wait a minute." Silver said.  "You're saying that if we don't have… relations on the boat we'll go back to normal?"

"It's been rumored." Chris said, still holding Silver's paws and bouncing.  "But I know that when Yars broke up with Ironbar Yars didn't have sex for a few months."

"Seven months, three weeks, four days, and a few hours."  Both turned around, looking at the great dane behind them.  "But it's not like I was counting.  No, you can be a virgin and still change.  It's happened.  It's something about Vermin, I don't know what he does, but he turns anyone he mounts into a rat if they haven't changed yet."

Chris grabbed his tail and showed it to Ironbar.  "But look!  It's shrinking!  I'm not a rat!  I'm not a rat!"

Ironbar looked at Chris's tail with interest.  "I guess you're not." He said with a nod.  "So you'll be taking your leave when we land?"

Chris stopped, his heart racing with the thought.  He looked to Silver, then to Ironbar, then in the corner of his eye he saw a brown dog  helping to push the rudder.  "I…  I don't know." he said.  "I might."

Ironbar patted Chris on the shoulder.  "You've got time yet."

Down below the water line  Abacus was with Robert.  The cat was tending to Vermin's injuries.  Vermin screamed in agony.  "You did that on purpose!" he sneered.  Vermin's lieutenants stood nearby, not sure what to do.

"You broke a few bones!" Robert pleaded.  "I'm sorry, this is going to hurt a little bit, there's not a lot I can do about that!"

"How about something to kill the pain?" Vermin asked.  "Like one of my boys to suck my dick or something?"

Robert looked at Abacus sadly.  "You'll have to tell him sometime, love." the raccoon said.

"What?" Vermin asked, looking scared.

Robert looked embarrassed.  "What do you know about animal bodies?"  Vermin shook his head, not following his question.  "When we changed, our bodies became part animal, and a part of that is we have a bone here."  Robert pointed between his legs.  "It's a penis bone, all animals have them."

"What's wrong with my dick?" Vermin demanded in a panic.  "What's is wrong with my dick?!" he shouted.

"It's broken." Robert stammered.  "Your penis bone is broken.  When you landed on it, it broke."

Abacus let himself get a wicked grin.  "I don't know what you were doing on the deck in the rain with an erection that far out of your sheath.  Whatever it was, it had to be good, your hand is fractured too."

"WHAT?!?"  Vermin tried to sit up, then immediately regretted it groaning as he fell back into his loft.  One of the jackrat lieutenants rushed to his side, to ease him down.

"Don't move!" Abacus snapped.  "I told you that!"

"You have a choice, Mr. Vermin." Robert said politely.  "I can leave it, but it will heal wrong and it will be…  disfigured.  Or…"  Robert swallowed hard.  "I can re-set it."

"If I leave it, will I get to fuck these boys?" Vermin asked.

Robert shook his head.  "Not without immense pain, it would be like walking on a leg that…"

"Set it." Vermin said.  Abacus looked around, and took a few bondage implements off the walls and attached them to Vermin's arms and legs.  "What are you doing?" the rat asked in short breaths.

"You need to sit as still as possible, Vermin." Abacus said with a smile.  "I'm just making sure that you don't…  move…"  Abacus locked the last restraint on.  "You might not want to watch, Vermin."  Abacus grinned evilly to himself as Robert rolled the rat's sheath down gently over the bone.  "But I'm going to like this."

The scream was heard on the top deck.

Silver stopped in his tracks, as did most everyone else, at the primal scream.  It set his fur on end.  He walked over to Captain Yars, who was finishing with the broom.  "How can you just do that?"

"It needs to be done." Yars said.  "And since I had a free hand, I decided to sweep the deck a little.  It won't kill me."

"No" Silver said.  "How could you keep working like that after hearing that?"

Yars stopped, and leaned against the broom.  "Because it hasn't been the first time I heard that scream."  The fire behind Yars's eyes was obvious, and Silver shuddered.  "When we're on the island, if we have time, I'll tell you."  Silver nodded, and went about his work.  Yars looked up at the railing he leaned against, knowing what else happened there fifteen years ago, then looked to the sky.

The sun set over the horizon, and Silver took some time alone to think.  Belfry walked up to Silver, who was straddling the yardarm.  "You might want to hit some grub." he said.  "A lot of the crew is panicking and trying to binge eat before we run out of food."

"Are we running out?" Silver asked, never turning around.

"No." the bat said with a snicker.  "But with everyone working harder than they have in years, the noise level will certainly decrease tonight."

Silver smiled, and turned around.  "You're Belfry?"  The bat nodded.  "That's not your real name, is it?"

"I could really have fun with you and say yes, but I won't."  The bat sat on the side of the ship with his feet dangling over the front railing, and his hands over it.  "I decided after my change into the crew that Maria did indeed have a bat in her belfry, and being the bat in question I'd be the Belfry as well."

"What a horrible pun." Silver said, looking at the bat for the first time.  "I've heard you're blind?"  The bat nodded.  "So how can you be on watch?"

Belfry laughed loud, then flicked his ear with a fingertip.  "These aren't for hanging rings on!"  He laughed again, then noticed Silver wasn't laughing.  "Oh, you really don't know?  Ok then, when Maria gave me this form, she gave me a gift I can only describe as better than sight.  Hold up some fingers, let me show you!"  Silver held up a finger.  Belfry opened his muzzle, and twitched his ears.  "Only one?  Oh, come on, normally everyone tries at least two."

Silver dropped his jaw.  "How did you know that?"

"My gift." Belfry said proudly.  "I don't have a word for it, but I can describe it as seeing with my ears.  These wings aren't good for flying, but I can glide from the top mast if the weather is right.  I thank Maria every day for giving me these gifts."

Silver shook his head.  "I'm still confused about this place." he said.  "You're happy here, the Howlers are happy, Yars, I can't tell if he's happy or not, the rats are not definitely not happy, my former crew is not happy, and I've met others who want to get off the boat when we make land, and others who don't want to leave.  Why?"

Belfry put his paw onto the Fox's tail, which was all he could reach from his perch.  "It's like that everywhere you go.  A long time ago I accepted that I was a blind man.  Fate or circumstance, I ended up here, and now, I can see.  And the more I accept that, the happier I am.  I'm enjoying the gifts that Maria gives me."  Belfry smiled.  "You should too."

"I'm sorry?" Silver asked.

"Your mate."  Silver almost fell off the yardarm and into the netting.  "I can smell him on you, I can smell your scent and his, they're different than yesterday.  You may not have done it intentionally, but I can smell you're mates now.  And that is such a wonderful thing, I'm really happy for you and Sharpeye."

"You can smell that?" Belfry nodded, and Silver crawled back onto the deck before he fell off the boat.  "Who else knows?"

"My lips are sealed." the bat said, helping Silver back in.  "Once you embrace your feral side, you'll know who knows.  I heard a rumor that the Howlers are going to Howl once we reach the beach.  If you want to touch that side of yourself, and you're invited, then go."

"Have you been to one?" Silver asked.

"No need." Belfry said.  "I've never been invited and I'm not sure I could take the volume of sound that close.  But it's ok.  I love them like brothers anyway, they know it."  Belfry leaned into Silver and rubbed his nose against the fox, and smiled.  "You're cute, you've got a wonderful scent and a beautiful voice.  But I can also tell you're tired, hungry, and you'd benefit from a night in bed with your mate."

"How do you know all that?" Silver asked.

"Your stomach s growling, your speech is slurred, your scent reminds me of other foxes I thought were cute, and anyone with a mate would benefit from sleeping with them at night." Belfry deadpanned.  "Besides, I've heard others tell me you have a wonderful coat."  Belfry hugged the fox gently, and rubbed muzzles with him.  "And now I know they're right."  He smiled, and so did Silver.  "No go on, I'll take the watch from here."  Silver laughed with the bat before taking the bat's advice, in full.

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Curator: Socks the Catt / E-mail: <sockscatt@gmail.com>
DISCLAIMER : All stories in this archive are Copyright 2000 - 2003 Socks Furrotica Press. Distribution is permitted in electronic format, as long as 1) the entire text (including this disclaimer) remains intact and 2) My e-mail address remains on the work (sockscatt@gmail.com) Permission is also given to print this text out for personal use. If you wish to include this story in a web site or for publication, e-mail myself (sockscatt@gmail.com) and we'll talk it over...
This is (unfortunately) a work of fiction. It depicts sex. Lots of quite graphic sex between several genders and arguably a few species. Af any of this offends you, or anything vaguely pornographic bothers you, don't read this, and don't send me your nasty e-mail (I may enjoy it, you know...)

Being a work of fiction, none of the characters herin are based on a real person (Save the narrator and one other person...) And similarity to any person alive, dead, undead or unalive is coincidental, totally. However, if you see yourself or someone you know in a character be honored. You've been immortalised.