Episode 4: New Directions
By Bernard Doove © 2010

Art by Heather Bruton

Ken sat in the back of Rickís car, fuming with barely contained anger. His left hand was about Jazmynís waist while his right hand stroked her hair reassuringly as she wept on his shoulder from fear and humiliation. They drove in stony cold silence for hours all the way from the TV studio interstate to Rickís home where Ken had parked his truck. As they got out, Rick again tried to apologise for the way that things had turned out, only to have Ken cut him off.

"Of all the idiotic shows that you could have gotten Jazmyn on, why did it have to be that moronic one? You were so confident of getting her some serious publicity, but that was the best you could do? It was a wonder that Jazmyn wasnít hurt by those idiots when they tried to pull hir head off to prove that it was a mask. As it was, she was ridiculed and insulted by people who were never open to the truth in the first place. That wasnít an interview Ė that was a farce Ė a circus! No, Iíve seen circus animals treated far better than she was."

Normally Rick was the cool, fast-talking business manager, but his utter failure of his attempts to publicise Jazmyn to forestall the government possibly absconding with the fox woman had left him floundering. "Iím truly sorry, but that show was the only one that would even consider an interview, especially at short notice. Every other show thought that I was a crackpot, even though I offered to prove it before the actual interview. I admit that I got a bit desperate though when I approached that showís managementÖ."

"Desperate?" Ken interrupted. "I donít even watch the show and I know that itís a sensationalistic piece of crap!"

"And yet you still went ahead with it," Rick pointed out.

Kenís ire deflated a little. Rick was right Ė he was so concerned for Jazmyn that he had let desperation overcome his better judgement. Instead of the serious interview though, Jazmyn had gotten a series of loaded questions that had left her flustered, and then one Ďoutragedí guest had protested about her intelligence being insulted by an obvious fake, and it had degenerated from there. Ken had managed to hustle Jazmyn out of the studio before things got completely out of control, but not before Jazmyn had been traumatised by the experience.

"Yeah, I did," Ken admitted. "Look Ė just put things on hold for now. Weíve got to rethink this, and Jazmyn will need to recover from her ordeal." He helped her into the passenger side of his truck, and then went around to the driverís side. "Iíll call you when I have news." He climbed in and then drove off, leaving Rick feeling sorry for having let down his best friend.

"How are you feeling, Jaz?" Ken asked when the silence got too much to bear.

"Iíll be okay, Ken," she reassured him. "I just wasnít prepared for what happened tonight."

"I donít think anyone could be ready for that," Ken replied.

"How can people be like that though? I thought that I had ended up in a place for the insane! The crazy questionsÖ the hostilityÖ the fear!"

"Itís a crazy world, Jaz. Donít tell me that they didnít have anything like that back in your old world?"

Jazmyn closed her eyes and shook her head. "I suppose there could have been, but I never came across anything that bad. The hostility that I escaped from there was at least understandable. Here they just seemed automatically against me, and everything that I said just made it worse."

"People fear the unknown, hon. You were tilting their neat universe, and they would prefer to believe that you are a fake than to accept reality. Iíd hoped that a serious interview on a respectable TV show could avoid that to some degree, but instead we ended up with that! I should never have agreed to let you go on with it. Iím deeply sorry for having failed you that way."

"No, Ken, we had to start somewhere, even though we seem to be back at the beginning, but I donít think I could face another audience like that."

"I wouldnít do that to you again anyway, Jaz. Weíve got to try to think of another plan."

However neither could think of anything more than what they had already thought up in the days preceding this disaster, and they settled into frustrated silence until they reached their house.

They got home in the early hours of the morning and they were surprised to find their neighbour and ally, Elizabeth, waiting for them. She gave Jazmyn a comforting hug as she got out of the car. "Oh you poor dear! Rick called me to let me know what happened. It was disgraceful! Are you alright?"

"Iíll be fine, Liz. I just need a good nightís sleep to let me get over it."

"Well I brought over some Black Forest cake for supper. I reckon a bit of comfort food will help."

Jazmyn smiled gratefully and thanked Elizabeth. Black Forest cake was one of her favourites.

"I left it inside with Kayde. Better get inside before he scoffs the lot!" Elizabeth said with a grin.

Ken said, "Thank you, Liz. Iím sure that will help a lot."

"Youíre welcome, Ken. Now Iíd better get home. Iíll drop by with the kids tomorrow if thatís okay?"

Ken nodded affirmatively, and Elizabeth got into her car and drove off.

They went inside where they found Kayde sitting in a lounge chair, the cake intact on a nearby table. He said something unintelligible to Jazmyn in a concerned tone and she replied with something reassuring. Ken headed straight for the coffee maker to prepare drinks for them all.

"Kayde Ė coffee?" Ken asked.

"Yes. Coffee, please," the wolf replied.

Jazmyn got a knife and cut generous slices of cake for everyone, putting them onto plates and adding a fork. She gave one to Kayde and then put one onto the table in front of the sofa into which she sank with a tired sigh. She started eating her portion of the cake and Ken joined her as soon as the coffee was ready. He put his arm about his wife, and they ate and drank in companionable silence for a while.

Eventually Jazmyn turned and gave Ken a kiss. "Donít let tonightís events get you down, love. You did your best, and Iím feeling okay now."

"I never thought for a moment that you didnít have the strength to bounce back from this, Jaz, but Iím not sure what else I can do to protect you. Agent Fairbanks gave us too little time to react, and Iím terrified of what might happen to you soon."

"As long as youíre with me Ken, thatís all that matters." She kissed him again and he returned it with great fervour.

Kayde grew uncomfortable as he felt he was intruding upon them, and as it was already so late, he quietly removed himself to the spare room. As he undressed to get into bed, he realised that he was far more concerned for the fate of the lovers than he was for his own. They had so much more to lose than he did. In fact he still wondered if there was any place for him in this world at all.

Ken did not even bother trying to go to work the next day. He knew that there wasnít a chance that he could concentrate on that, so instead he and Jazmyn slept in late, then he pottered about the place doing odd jobs to distract himself. Jazmyn worked on her garden in an effort to keep her mind off the fact that this was the day that Agent Fairbanks would be reporting the presence of the two morphs. With nothing to do, Kayde could not just sit about while dwelling on that same fact, so he went for a walk on one of the trails. He needed the exercise anyway.

The day passed utterly without incident, but Ken did not know whether he should be relieved, or worried that the FBI would come knocking down their door in the middle of the night. When Elizabeth came by after work with Tina and Matthew, it was a welcome diversion. Ken asked them all to stay for dinner, and Jazmyn brought in some fresh vegetables from the garden, and some rhubarb to cook for dessert. It was a very homey feeling with them all gathered about the dining table, and Ken hoped that it would not be the last time like this.

That night, he and Jazmyn made love passionately, almost as if this might be their last opportunity. When they were done and drifting off to sleep in each otherís arms, Jazmyn wondered yet again how she would cope with being torn away from her home and the one she loved for the second time.

Ken buried himself in his work on the computer. There simply was too much to get done for him to ignore it for too long, but at least he was able to do that from home. Jazmyn took Kayde out onto the porch so as not to distract Ken, and continued to try to teach the wolf English with the aid of her laptop. It was nearly half past eleven when they came inside and Jazmyn tapped Ken on the shoulder to gain his attention.

"Thereís an unknown car coming," she told him.

Ken grimaced. "This could be it, Jaz. Whatever happens, Iíll do my utmost to protect you, darling."

"Donít take any unnecessary risks, Ken," she said as he rose to hug her.

"Iíll try not to, but I havenít a clue whatís going to happen."

She didnít know what else to say, so she kissed him lengthily instead. When they parted, they gazed at each other adoringly for a moment before Ken said, "Okay, letís see who is coming."

He stepped out onto the porch alone however on the slight chance that the person approaching might be someone totally unrelated to their concerns, although travellers were still very infrequent on that road.

The car turned into their driveway, dispelling any notion that it might be heading for Elizabethís house up at the old sawmill. As it drew closer, Ken could see that there was only one person in the car. A little closer still and Ken was certain who it was.

"Itís Fairbanks," Ken announced.

Jazmyn decided to come out onto the porch also, and Kayde followed her lead. All three waited until Fairbanks pulled up and got out of the car. He was not dressed in a suit as he had been when he they had first met, nor was he in the hiking gear that he had worn during the surveillance of their home. Instead he was dressed in normal street clothes like what you would wear while visiting friends, which Ken felt was a bit odd.

"Good morning Mr and Mrs Morita," Fairbanks said.

"That depends on what youíre here to do, Agent Fairbanks," Ken replied.

"Not Agent Fairbanks today; call me Jason if you like," he said as he held out his hand.

"Again, that depends on why youíre here," Ken persisted, ignoring the offer of a handshake.

Fairbanks retracted his hand. "Nothing actually. Iím on compulsory leave pending review. It seems that my boss didnít like my report and censured me for letting my hobby interfere with my work. He put me on leave until ĎYou can learn to live in the real world and forget those stupid fantasiesí. The bottom line is that my credibility is shot, my career probably ruined, but your secret is safe."

"They did that even after you showed them the photographs that you took?"

Fairbanks shrugged. "Itís amazing what you can do with Photoshop or other image programs." He gave a mirthless "Ha!" then went on. "My boss was so pissed off that he threw the photographs into the garbage, along with all the other evidence. The case has been officially closed as some crackpot stunt."

Jazmyn stepped forward. "Oh, you poor man! You did the right thing, but you were ridiculed for the truth."

Ken looked at her incredulously. "Jaz, this man could have ruined our lives!"

Jazmyn looked at Ken defiantly. "Heís a decent, honest person who loyally did his duty despite it conflicting with his own desires. I wonít condemn him for that."

Ken looked ready to protest further, but then he sighed in resignation. "Okay, but donít expect me to like it."

Jazmyn turned back to Fairbanks. "So, Jason," she began, pointedly using his first name, "why did you come all the way out here to tell us this? A telephone call would be quicker and cheaper."

"No, I needed to do this in person. Firstly I want to apologise for the trouble that I caused you all. Believe me; I would rather have not done so."

"Did you know that two nights ago, I tried to reveal myself to the world on television?"

"No, I didnít. I gather you did not succeed?"

"I was called a fake and physically abused."

"Iím sorry to hear that, but ironically itís a good thing that happened. Now there will be a lot more misinformation about you out in the community, and any further sightings are likely to be immediately dismissed at further attempts at deception."

"Iím glad that some good came out of that horrible experience," Jazmyn said fervently. "Anyway, there was something else that you wanted to do?"

"Yes Ė a personal need to see the person of my dreams and fantasies again."

Ken interjected, "Donít get any funny ideas about my wife, Fairbanks!"

Fairbanks shook his head. "Not Jazmyn, Mr Morita. I meant Kayde."

"Huh?" Ken was thrown off stride.

Jazmyn said, "Dear Ė didnít you notice when he was here last time? His attention was mostly on Kayde. Would I be right in thinking that youíre a homosexual, Jason?"

"Thatís very perceptive of you, Jazmyn. Yes I am, and Kaydeís species has been the subject of my idle fantasies for years. Now heís here in the living flesh and fur. I had to come back." He held up a folder that he had been holding in his left hand, and he opened it up to reveal plastic sheets filled with sheets of artwork. Turning them, they could see that they were all of male wolf morphs.

"This one is my alter ego," Fairbanks said as he pointed out a couple of examples.

"UmmÖ how do you think Kayde is going to feel about this, Jaz? It seems a bit creepy to me."

Jazmyn looked at Ken in surprise. "Didnít you know Kayde is a homosexual too? He was bred to be a maleís Companion, after all."

"Pardon me for being a dense straight guy, but it never occurred to me. The question still stands though. Your relationship to your Companion was like that of a daughter, and I know that you could never replace your Ďfatherí."

"Letís ask Kayde then." She turned to the wolf and said, "Agent Fairbanks has reassured us that our secret is safe for now." She gave him a brief synopsis of what they had been told and then continued, "Anyway, Jason has expressed personal interest in you. I think he has some idea of hopefully being your new Companion."

Kayde looked at Fairbanks in surprise. This kind of thing just didnít happen back in his world. You simply did not replace a Companion. But then again, that was a social convention, not a law. He regarded the man closely Ė he was good-looking and fitÖ perhaps a few years older than ideal but hardly worth mentioning. Then there was his own position to consider Ė he had nowhere to go, but he certainly didnít want to impose on Ken and Jazmyn indefinitely. Fairbanks offered an alternative and he certainly seemed earnest enough. But could he even begin a relationship with this man? He couldnít even have a conversation with him as yet! Still, there wasnít any harm in trying, was there? He needed answers, but he wouldnít get them this way. He turned back to Jazmyn and said, "Please askÖ JasonÖ to come inside and join us for lunch."

Jazmyn nodded and did so.

Ken looked flabbergasted. "I donít believe this!" he told her. "Weíre going to make nice like nothing ever happened?"

Jazmyn replied firmly, "Yes we are, Ken. For Kaydeís sake, we can do this."

Ken regarded his wife and her defiant stance. He had to smile in appreciation of her kindness and generosity. "Okay Jaz, youíre the boss." He looked at Fairbanks and said ironically, "Welcome to our home."

"Thank you, Mr Morita, and thank you too, Jazmyn, for all your help." He looked at Kayde and added, "And please thank Kayde for giving me this chance."

Jazmyn did so, then they all went inside where Ken and Jazmyn started preparing lunch for four.

It was a somewhat awkward mealtime. Jason mostly wanted to talk with Kayde, but the wolf understood too little English yet to have a conversation without an interpreter. While Jazmyn was willing, it did not make it comfortable.

Ken was still cool towards Jason, but at least he made the effort to be courteous and make conversation when talk between Jason and Kayde floundered.

"So what do you plan to do now that youíve met Kayde? Live a double life trotting between your job and your hidden dream guy?"

Jason shook his head. "As I said earlier, my career at the FBI is probably ruined. I could persist in my present job, but the likelihood of promotion is virtually nil, and I would probably be stuck with all the worst jobs too. Iíve been thinking of making a clean break and starting again somewhere else. Somewhere fairly secluded like this area for example."

Ken snorted in amusement. "You really do have it bad for Kayde, donít you?"

"Mr Morita, Iím a realist Ė I know that a relationship with Kayde is not guaranteed, but I am going to do my utmost to make that happen. In doing so, I can protect and provide for Kayde, and take him off your hands at the same time. Tell me Ė do you really want to have him here with you for the indefinite future?"

"UmmÖ no, not really. As pleasant as he is, one morph is really enough."

"I thought as much. Iím going to explore a couple of possibilities while Iím out here. If all goes well, you may have your home to yourselves again in a few weeks."

"Then I wish you luck, Mr Fairbanks. Youíll need it; I know that I did."

"Thanks. Iíll take all that I can get."

A month and a half later, another strange car pulled into the Moritaís driveway. It wasnít unexpected however, and Ken called out Jazmyn and Kayde as soon as he confirmed the identity of the occupant.

Jason Fairbanks got out of the car and walked up to the porch. "Good afternoon, Mr Morita."

"Good afternoon. Might as well call me Ken. I donít think my wife will let me keep being so formal."

"As long as you call me Jason," he replied with a smile. He turned to the others and said, "Good afternoon to you too, Jazmyn."

"Thank you, Jason. Good afternoon to you too," she said cheerfully, and then moved aside to let Kayde step forward.

"Good day, Jason," Kayde said with open arms. Jason met him with a warm hug. The wolf had decided that he liked the idea of having a new Companion, and although he hadnít been bred with Jason in mind, he did strongly resemble his intended Companion in tastes and personality. He was more than willing to give the relationship a try to fill the hole in his heart.

When they had parted, Ken asked, "So how did the job interview go?"

Jason grinned. "Youíre now looking at the new detective attached to the county sheriffís office. With the job confirmed, the bank gave their approval for the mortgage on the place that I picked out for me and Kayde. Itís not quite as secluded as this place in the woods, but it has enough privacy that Kayde wonít be stuck in the house all of the time."

Art by Sara Palmer

"Iím glad that everything seems to be working out for you two," Jazmyn said.

"So far," Jason admitted.

"I have a good feeling about you two. So what do you intend to do now?"

"I want to show Kayde his future home. The car windows are tinted, and it will be getting dark soon, so we shouldnít have any more problems than you do when you go out on one of your jaunts."

"Then donít let us hold you up. Get going and enjoy your evening out."

Jason grinned and held out his hand for Kayde who took it willingly. He led the wolf to the passenger door and let him in, then got into the driverís side. Kayde wound down the window and waved as they departed. He said something that Ken didnít catch, and then they were gone.

"What did Kayde say?" Ken asked.

Jazmynís eyes were alive with merriment as she took her mateís arm to draw him inside. "He said, ĎDonít do anything that I donít plan to do alsoí."

Ken grinned. "I think Kayde and Jason are going to get along just fine."



All characters and this story are copyright © 2010 Bernard Doove.

More Jazmyn to come in Filling A Hole.

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