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A game of cat and mouse

Nyanon Jun 26th, 2015 (edited) 4,009 Never
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  1.         "I told you I'm no good at these kind of things. I only met him a few times anyways, it'd be alright if I stayed in the room."
  2.         "You drove all the way here with me, now isn't the time to get cold feet. I'm not asking you to visit with anyone, just be there."
  3.         Cassie pouted under the brush tidying her short, messy bundle of tortoiseshell colored hair. Orange and black hairs fought against metal teeth but had to relent under the persistence of her husband. She kept her yellow feline eyes closed while being groomed, the white, orange, and black fur on her arms and legs already shiny from an earlier shower. It took several more minutes for the man with short cut black hair, crimson eyes, a healthy build, and tanned skin to get the mess as under control as it could be.
  4.         "And you can't play on your phone either."
  5.         "But what if someone from work calls?!" Cassie complained, standing up in her ill fitted funeral dress. Black fabric strained over her d-cups, forcing her to adjust them to try and get comfortable in the one size too small garment. Alex sighed, dressed in his own formal suit for the occasion.
  6.         "Then you can answer it, but only then. We'll get some ice cream when we're done, okay?"
  7.         "Yaaay! Thank you Alex!"
  8.         Alex caught his shorter wife in his arms, excited feline pressing right up against him with a delighted smile. A light purr rumbled through her body and the soft chest pressed against him. Alex faked a cough to hide a bit of arousal before pulling Cassie off.
  9.         "Come on, we don't want to be late. Remember, well behaved and quiet. It won't take that long."
  10.         "M'kay!~"
  11.         Cassie rushed for the door of their single bed hotel room, opening it up to hurry to the elevator. Alex took the time to lock the door and walk despite the calico were-cat's impatience. Both moved into the elevator, alone together for the ride. Cassie's mind wandered, taking her phone out to tap at the screen with as much dexterity as her paw-hands could manage.
  12.         "Hey, Alex?"
  13.         "Hm?"
  14.         "I never asked, how did your older brother... pass away?"
  15.         "Was wondering when you'd get to asking that."
  16.         "I didn't mean to forget..."
  17.         "Don't worry, I know." Alex smiled, patting Cassie's head with one hand to reassure her. A small smile came to her face, were-cat putting her phone away once the elevator door opened. "I'll tell you in the car, alright?"
  18.         "M'kay."
  19.         Alex led the way out of the elevator and through the cold concrete structure of the hotel's parking complex. Echoes of footsteps bounced around in the cold, hollow space on their way to the rented car, a plain white vehicle parked in their room's reserved space. Cassie climbed in the passenger seat and let her husband take the wheel. Alex climbed in second and buckled up, glancing at Cassie with a slight frown.
  20.         "Seat-belt."
  21.         Cassie snapped to attention, paw grabbing the buckle and pulling it across herself. With passenger safe Alex started the car and pulled out of their space, driving slow to avoid any surprise accidents.
  22.         "House fire. Suffocated on smoke even before the flames reached the master bedroom. Didn't even wake up before he and his wife were gone." Alex explained, "The lawyer said there was something for us in his will. We'll find out what that is after the ceremony."
  23.         "I see... it's still sad though. They didn't have undeath coverage?"
  24.         "The fire burned their bodies up too badly."
  25.         "That's too bad. His wife was fun to tease, that silly mouse. I can't remember her name though."
  26.         "Bonnie."
  27.         "That's it."
  28.         Cassie looked out the window, surprised at their arrival at the funeral hall in such a short time. She waited for the vehicle to park before taking her seat-belt off and getting out as soon as she could. The first thing she saw looking forward was Alex's mother greeting people entering, an older anubis in a black womans suit. Her hair remained the same dark black as the rest of her family, eyes crimson and skin as tanned as any desert native. Her gaze shifted and focused on the werecat. Cassie opened the door of the car once more to sneak back inside, Alex grabbing his wife by the arm and pulling her back out.
  29.         "She won't bite this time. Come on. There is probably finger food inside."
  30.         "Y-you promise she'll be nice?" Cassie pleaded as she was dragged towards the door, already in the sights of the mother. Instead of the usual disapproving leer, the were-cat only got a slight frown and sigh from the grieving mother on their approach.
  31.         "She just lost her eldest son. I'm sure she's in no mood."
  32.         The anubis smiled at the pair, her look of gratitude directed more towards Alex. She opened her arms up for Alex to move into, pair trading a tight hug. Alex had to pull his mother off of himself, her paw-hands grasping at his suit like she didn't want to let him go.
  33.         "How are you doing mom?"
  34.         "A bit better now, I should keep my composure until we get started... I'm glad you could make it."
  35.         "I couldn't miss it. Besides, I'm only missing one day of work. You don't need to worry about that."
  36.         "You're doing well, aren't you? Are you eating right? You're not getting sick?"
  37.         "I'm fine mom! Really."
  38.         Alex smiled down at the worried anubis, black haired woman staring up at him with motherly concern. She let out her breath and stepped back, letting the pair enter the hall.
  39.         "We'll be starting in seventeen minutes. Try and be seated before then, daughter in law."
  40.         Cassie cowered behind Alex to enter, keeping him between herself and the anubis. She didn't want a repeat of their wedding, or another bite mark to go with it. After they entered, she scanned the room and spotted the table where coffee, juice, and an assortment of snacking foods were placed. Cassie made a b-line for it, Alex letting her go do her own thing in the hopes it would let the cat sit still for the ceremony. He made a trip up to the front of the hall, two caskets kept closed. A photo of his brother and the dormouse wife sat on their respective coffins, sizes greatly different. He took a moment to stare at his brother's photograph, turning away in the hopes of getting a bit of coffee to settle himself.
  41.         An unfamiliar face caught his attention instead, sitting on the front row of pews in the hall. No more than three feet tall if she were standing, the dormouse child's face was stained with tears as she clung to a stuffed black dragon. True to her species she was out like a light and sleeping where she was. Alex glanced between the photograph of his late brother's wife before at the child in her little black dress, seeing the resemblance in the shape of the child's features. The skin and hair color matched the rest of his family, straight black hair and tanned skin. Walking closer, he noticed the hair on the inside of her curtain of long, straight raven hair was purple. Not too uncommon in wonderland creatures. He knelt down, took a tissue out of his pocket, and wiped the tears from the sleeping child's face as gently as he could.
  42.         "Eh?..."
  43.         The dormouse opened her purple eyes partway, roused from sleep. Alex kept wiping, confusing his niece in her half asleep state. Once done wiping the tears he let her have the tissue, little girl blowing her nose with it before handing it back. He took it from her and stuck the crumpled tissue in his pocket.
  44.         "U-uhm... th-thank you... mister..."
  45.         "I guess this is the first time I'm meeting you. My name is Alex, I'm your uncle. What's your name?"
  46.         The little dormouse squeaked, hugging the large toy a little tighter while avoiding his gaze. Eventually she replied, looking down at the ground in front of her the whole while.
  47.         "I'm Sammy..."
  48.         "It's nice to meet you Sammy. Are you hungry? I can get you something."
  49.         She kept avoiding Alex's gaze, hesitating to answer before hiding her face in her toy. Alex couldn't help but chuckle, standing up and patting her on the head.
  50.         "I'll go get some juice and snacks for you."
  51.         "O-okay..."
  52.         Cassie looked up from her sampling when Alex stepped up beside her, mouth full of sausage she chewed and washed down with some creamy coffee. Once her throat was clear she looked Alex up and down before sniffing at his shirt. The cat leaned back to look around Alex, spotting Sammy sobbing in her seat as more family crowded into the building.
  53.         "They had a kid?"
  54.         "Her name is Sammy. She's six, I remember seeing the baby pictures my brother emailed me. Mom is probably taking care of her now."
  55.         "...Isn't it a bit cruel to make her sit here?"
  56.         Alex didn't answer, thinking about it. After careful deliberation, he could only answer with a half-hearted "Maybe."
  57.         "She's cute though... I hope she isn't traumatized."
  58.         "She's just as sad as any child would be in this situation."
  59.         "That's still pretty bad."
  60.         "I know. You can talk with her if you like."
  61.         "I wouldn't know what to say."
  62.         "Just do one of your voices. If she recognizes it, it might cheer her up."
  63.         "We don't even know what she likes though..."
  64.         "You could try asking her."
  65.         Cassie pouted, Alex ignoring the begging look as best as he could to carry the small plate of food and cup of juice away. He walked back over to where Sammy sat, mouse getting the stuffed animal wet with tears again by the time he sat down beside her. Setting the food down, he found another tissue in his pocket and handed it to the sobbing child. Sammy took the tissue and blew her nose with it, Alex putting it with the other one in his pocket. Cassie sat down on his other side with a sympathetic frown on her face, occupying herself with her food and coffee. Alex held the plate up to offer the food to Sammy, getting the child to look up out of the stuffed dragon. She reached over and took one of the sweets first, Alex letting her eat what she wanted.
  66.         Alex's mother walked up and sat down on the other side of Cassie with Alex's father sitting beside her at the end of the pew, all of the guests seeming to have arrived in time. The mother smiled at the interaction of the pair.
  67.         "If you want to visit her, you can come by the house anytime. She'd love the company, right Sammy?"
  68.         Sammy looked up at her grandmother, still chewing the treats in her mouth. She simply nodded before taking the cup to sip at her juice. Alex smiled and set the plate down beside the mouse, letting her pick at it as she pleased.
  69.         "I'll do that, though I'll need to wait for the summer. Will your dragon be happy to see me too?"
  70.         Sammy looked up at her uncle before at the stuffed toy in her hands, thinking about it for a minute. Eventually she came to some sort of conclusion.
  71.         "Olivia doesn't know yet..."
  72.         "So her names Olivia?"
  73.         "She's a flemmenwerfer..."
  74.         "That's not how you say that sweetie." Alex's mother cut in.
  75.         "Flammenwoofer?"
  76.         "Bit worse."
  77.         "...Dragonwoofer?"
  78.         "We'll get it later, it's starting."
  79.         The room went silent right as the clock turned over to the scheduled time, an anubis in more traditional robes stepping out of the back room with precise timing. She carried with her the ceremonial golden scales on a staff, feather placed into one bowl of the evenly balanced pair. She began to recite the usual lines in their ancient language, and tossed salt on each of the caskets. Alex stayed silent and solemn, but his mother steadily lost her composure into tears as the procedure carried on. Soon, the anubis priestess finished with her task and made way for Alex's father, a tall man with a well built body even in his fiftieth year, to take the podium. He was one of the few with light skin in the room, Cassie and a couple other guests standing out in the room of brown.
  80.         As he spoke about the two in the caskets, the dormouse beside Alex began to wail louder into her stuffed animal. The anubis beside her was in no state to calm the child, and Alex was lost for what to do besides rubbing her tiny back. He was used to dealing with teenagers, not children this young Before the noise could disturb the ceremony, Cassie stood and moved over to the crying child. She scooped the mouse up, dragon and all, and carried her towards the back of the hall. Alex couldn't help being surprised, assuming his wife just wanted an excuse to get out of the room after a moment's thought.
  81.         "There there, get it all out." Cassie crooned, petting the upset child's hair while she carried the mouse through a side door into a coat room. With no other place to sit, she moved into a corner and sat carefully with her back to the wall and legs crossed, putting Sammy down in the middle of them. Being away from the long winded speeches helped the child calm herself, gentle strokes on her head helping calm her sorrow. Eventually, Sammy's crying turned to a quiet sobbing. The cat kept stroking, not sure if the child had fallen asleep with her face buried in her stuffed animal or not.
  82.         "Are you asleep Sammy?"
  83.         "N-nooo..."
  84.         "You can if you want, I don't mind."
  85.         "I g-get nightmares wh-when I sleep..."
  86.         "I see..."
  87.         Cassie stopped stroking, pulling Sammy up into a tight hug that made the mouse squeak before she was released. Cassie felt around her person, but couldn't find a tissue anywhere for the child to blow her nose to clear the runniness her tears had caused.
  88.         "What's your favorite cartoon Sammy?"
  89.         Sammy snuffled, looking up at the cat from her spot in her crossed legs. She looked back down at her dragon, before back up.
  90.         "...Bilgerats"
  91.         "I think I know which one that is. Ahemkhm."
  92.         Sammy blinked, curious about what the were-cat was doing clearing her throat and making notes with her voice. When Cassie did speak again, it was in a voice all too familiar.
  93.         "Arrr me maties! Git the cheese outta yer ears an' set those sails! Dere be a ship full'a cheese right on yonder horizon! Tonight we dine on GOUDA!"
  94.         Sammy's eyes widened, recognizing the voice of the captain in that cartoon.
  95.         "A-are you Captain Cheesetail?"
  96.         "No, I just voice  her."
  97.         "But... she's a real, isn't she?"
  98.         "Well... yes, but I just help make her real. If that makes sense."
  99.         Sammy stared at Cassie for a long moment, were-cat nervous but glad that the child was not weeping anymore.
  100.         "Can you do it again?"
  101.         "Y'mean this little lassie? I kin do it as much as ye want! Shall we sing a shanty?"
  102.         "What's a shanty?"
  103.         "Shanties be songs sung on the seas!"
  104.         "...why don't they call them songs?"
  105.         "...I don't know."
  106.         Both cat and mouse looked over towards the door when it clicked and swung open with a small creak. Alex looked inside at the pair in their corner, the sight of such a sweet scene causing him to pause and take in the sight for a long moment. Just before Cassie spoke up to ask what was going on, Alex spoke.
  107.         "I thought you weren't good with kids."
  108.         "I-I'm... not. Shut up. Is the ceremony over?" Cassie asked, blush coming to her face.
  109.         "Yeah. They're just about to read the will, want to come listen? Sammy can stay here with you if she likes."
  110.         "No, we should listen to it. It won't take long anyways."
  111.         Cassie carefully stood up, it being tricky with the mouse where she was right next to her, but managed to get to her feet without too much trouble. She almost jumped in surprise when she felt Sammy take hold of her tail, letting the mouse do as she wanted. Cassie followed her husband out of the room and to a different door across the main hall, dormouse clinging tight the whole way.
  112.         "What kind of kitty are you auntie?"
  113.         "Hm? Oh, I'm a calico. I'm supposed to be good luck, according to some people."
  114.         "You are?"
  115.         "Yeah, haven't won the lottery yet though." Cassie giggled, smiling back at Sammy.
  116.         The three all entered into the legal office, Alex's parents both already in the room with his father calming down his seated mother as best as the 'old' man could manage. Alex's mother had reddened her eyes over the course of the ceremony, somber look stuck on her face. Cassie stayed standing, letting Alex sit in the other chair so she could pat Sammy's head with one of her paws. Sitting behind the desk in the room was a stout Sphinx sorting through documents, dressed neatly in a business suit, a pair of glasses stuck to her nose. Stacks of papers sat neatly on her desk, a name plaque naming her as Mrs.Nygma. After getting everything in order, the sphinx looked up at the group in front of her.
  117.         "Alright, all interested parties are gathered. I'll read the will now, I have the forms and documents ready for the details." The sphinx started, waiting to see if the group wanted to say anything first. With no protests, and the only action being the giving of a tissue to the snotty dormouse so she could clear her nose again, the lawyer continued.
  118.         "'We, Thomas and Bonnie Thatcher, of sound mind and body hereby declare these things to be carried out upon our deaths. All of our worldly possessions hereby belong to my mother and father, Tanya and Bob Thatcher. All funds from our savings shall be put into a trust fund for them to manage, to be handled only for the purposes of the well being of our daughter, Samantha Thatcher. Upon our daughter's twenty-first birthday, these funds shall become her property.' Here are the papers and documents, miss Thatcher."
  119.         Papers rustled and were handed from desk to Alex's father, taking them for his wife so she would not need to move from her seat. Alex waited for the next part of the will, curious what could be left to be given to them.
  120.         "Now then, the last part. 'We have both decided that should we both pass, that we do not wish our daughter to be raised by either of our parents. It is not that we do not trust in their abilities, but we personally believe our child needs to be raised by those of similar age to us. That is why we would wish custody of our child, Samantha Thatcher, to be given to my younger brother and his wife, Alexander and Cassandra Thatcher. Should they refuse, then we will grant custody to Tanya and Bob Thatcher.'"
  121.         The room went far more silent than before the sphinx had begun to read, all eyes shifting onto the young couple in the room. Alex was dumbfounded by the request of his deceased brother, a rare occurrence for him. Cassie stared with wide eyes at the lawyer, her own sense of surprise turning to panic and worry. She turned towards the door, Alex standing when he heard her reaction.
  122.         "No no no no I can't do this nonononono!" Cassie retreated. Alex caught her and pulled her back from the door, holding onto her shoulders firmly to look right at her face.
  123.         "Cassie, it's their last wish. I know we weren't planning to have children yet, but we're making more than enough to raise a child, what's the problem?
  124.         Cassie avoided his eyes, flinching when she crossed the disapproving glare of her mother in law from across the room. The lawyer waited patiently for some decision to come about, her father in law having the same sort of expression.
  125.         "W-well, it's... you see..."
  126.         "What is it?"
  127.         "I just don't think we have the room!"
  128.         "We have two spare rooms, don't make excuses."
  129.         "Look, I just don't want to!"
  130.         "What kind of woman are you?" Alex's mother growled, Cassie flinching. The cat looked the other way, seeing the teary dormouse looking up at her with a look that grabbed her heart and squeezed it like a hawk's talons stabbing into it.
  131.         "...you don't want m-me?"
  132.         Cassie looked at the ground as all eyes turned to her. Alex sighed disapprovingly, letting go of his wife to accept the decision.
  133.         "I w-would love to raise her... but I can barely take care of myself without Alex, how can I raise a child? I'm not ready to be a mother."
  134.         The tension in the room lowered. Alex patted her head, messing up her hair until she whined for him to stop. She patted her hair down after he took his hand back, cat pouting up at him.
  135.         "I'll care of both of you and teach you what you need to know. And if you need to know something, you can call my mother. She's as dependable as they come, but not quite as fun as you."
  136.         "I can hear you Alex."
  137.         "Not now mom."
  138.         Cassie looked down in thought, taking another minute to consider the large change and responsibility. After running through all the problems she could think of twice in her head, the were-cat looked up at Alex again.
  139.         "So, you'll take care of all the documents and stuff?"
  140.         "I'll try and teach you to take care of some of them, but yes."
  141.         "A-and tell me if I'm doing something stupid?"
  142.         "Don't I always do that?"
  143.         "Sh-shut up."
  144.         "So, what do you think kitten?"
  145.         Cassie paused, looking down at the waiting dormouse before back at Alex. She leaned forward and put her forehead against her husband's chest and answered.
  146.         "...lets raise her."
  147.         "You sure?"
  148.         "Yes!"
  149.         "It's decided then. Lets just fill out the forms to make it official then."
  150.         Alex smiled and scratched behind one of Cassie's ears, his own way of teasing her since it tickled her more than anything else. She laughed and swatted his hand away, looking down at Sammy once Alex moved to the desk to take care of the complicated things. The dormouse stared up at her, not looking outwardly sad or happy with the conclusion.
  151.         "Do I call you mommy now?"
  152.         The word made her heart clench for a moment, elation spreading from her paws to her fuzzy ears just from such a simple thing. Cassie crouched and smiled at Sammy, hand reaching up to stroke the young mouse's hair.
  153.         "If you want. I might be kind of an odd mommy though. You don't have to..."
  154.         "...so, I can?"
  155.         "I-If you want to."
  156.         "Just let her call you it!" Barked Alex's mother from behind, Cassie's tail puffing up as her eyes widened from fright. This in turn made Sammy squeak, something instinctual telling her to be afraid of wide cat eyes. The squeak drove Cassie to pull the dormouse into a tight hug right after, leading to a rather awkward hug between the pair.
  157.         "Y-you're squeezing really tight mommy..."
  158.         "Sorry!"
  159.         Cassie let go of the mouse, blinking a couple times when the little rodent kept latched onto her neck with both arms. She waited for a few moments for the dormouse to let go, before hearing a tiny squeaky snoring coming from the little thing. Her pleading eyes looked around the room for help, an amused grin breaking through the expression of her mother in law. Alex kept his back to her, signing more forms and papers to make it all legal. Not wanting to wake the mouse, she carefully put one arm under Sammy's rump and the other on her back to lift the tiny bundle of snores up as she stood.
  160.         "Does this happen a lot?"
  161.         "She's a dormouse, of course she's a bit narcoleptic. She only does it when she's relaxed though." Tanya spoke up, voice softer than other times addressing the cat. "I guess she likes you. She never did it with me."
  162.         "That's because you have a stick up your butt mom. No offense." Alex chimed in.
  163.         "I've raised two kids already! I can handle a little girl!" His mother retorted.
  164.         "Still doesn't mean you aren't as strict as a drill sergeant."
  165.         "I'm not THAT strict! I let you kids have ice cream AND cake on your birthdays! And let you watch non-educational shows for thirty minutes a day!"
  166.         Cassie looked back and forth as if she were watching a tennis match, the pair arguing rather politely with each other. Just when she wondered how long they would go for, Alex turned and handed the pen to her. Cassie just frowned, raising an eyebrow and shifting her eyes to the mouse in her arms.
  167.         "Right, sorry."
  168.         Alex gently took Sammy from his wife, mouse staying asleep but clinging to the new warm body with yet more squeaky snores. With her hands free, Cassie sat down and signed where the lawyer told her to with little understanding just what she was actually signing. After what felt to her at least a hundred initials, signatures, and dates written onto the pages the last document was notified.
  169.         "I still don't think I'll be a good mother, I can't even do my taxes on my own."
  170.         "Just be her best friend then." Bob suggested, "Alex can make sure she grows up responsible, you can make sure she grows up having fun."
  171.         Cassie considered the option, taking the child back from her husband so he could gather up the documents they needed and she could give the mouse a tight hug. It produced a squeak from Sammy, lighting up the were-cat's face with a smile.
  172.         "That should work just fine."
  173.         "You'll need to pick up Sammy's things before you fly home. Why not spend dinner at our place?"
  174.         Cassie looked over at her parents in law, smile fading as her gaze drifted away from them to avoid the question. Hesitating for too long, Alex answered for her.
  175.         "We'd love to. We're going to get some ice cream after we leave though, know any good parlors?"
  176.         "We have ice cream at home, and it's cheaper too!" Tanya frowned, standing with her arms crossed sternly. "You don't need any of that overpriced holstaurus milk!"
  177.         "But he promised!" Cassie whined, pouting at Alex instead of appealing to the anubis. Alex got all the papers he needed into a file, turning to see the begging of his wife and commanding stare of his mother both focused on him. It was enough to make even him a bit nervous.
  178.         "I did promise mom. I'm sure Sammy would love some too."
  179.         "She's going to grow up top-heavy if you feed her too much of that!"
  180.         "It's just a treat."
  181.         "Well... alright. We'll head home and get all her things together. It's not much, it'll fit into a suitcase. The only things that survived the fire were Sammy's old pajamas and her dragon." Tanya explained, moving to the desk to sign her own series of papers for the trust fund.
  182.         Cassie carried the still sleeping mouse to the door, Alex opening it for her to move through. She headed for the open door at the front to head to their car while Alex paused to look back into the room.
  183.         "What time should we come around for dinner? Seven, like always?"
  184.         "Come ten minutes early, it starts with or without you!" Tanya declared, not looking up from the documents for a moment.
  185.         "Six forty-five then. We'll see you then."
  186.         Alex hurried out to the car, taking the keys out to unlock the doors. He almost forgot to open the door to the back seat for Cassie, realizing something and hurrying back inside. Cassie watched him leave before coming back with a different set of keys, arms getting tired while her man opened his parent's vehicle and took the booster seat from the back row. It was quick and easy for him to put it into their back seat, Alex running inside again to return his parent's keys. Cassie carefully moved Sammy into the seat and buckled her in, having a bit of trouble due to the large stuffed dragon the mouse was still clinging to in her sleep. Not a moment before she took her paws away did Sammy whine and reach around for her, stopping Cassie in her tracks. She reached in and let Sammy grab onto one of her paws, her sleep quieting with the paw in her hand.
  187.         "We ready to go?" Alex asked, making his wife jump. She did a double take at him, frowning before slipping into the back seat beside Sammy and buckling herself up there.
  188.         "Ready!"
  189.         Alex chuckled and got into the driver's seat, buckling himself up before starting the vehicle. As he drove, Cassie looked at the sleeping mouse beside her that was keeping her paw hostage with her small hands. A tender smile spread on Cassie's face and a rumbling purr came from her chest, the noise waking Sammy. The little dormouse blinked awake, confused by her new surroundings. Eventually the curious eyes found Cassie beside her.
  190.         "Where're we?"
  191.         "The car, we're going to get ice cream." Cassie smiled, purring louder.
  192.         "We are?"
  193.         "If I can find it." Alex butted in.
  194.         "We'll get dinner with grammy and grampa later. Maybe see a movie." Cassie added.
  195.         Sammy stared at the two of them for a short time as if she were thinking about the situation itself, staying quiet while her young mind thought how she felt about it. It didn't take long for her simple mind to decide, hugging the paw she had captured tighter.
  196.         "Okay. What kind is mommy getting?..."
  197.         "You don't need to call me mommy if you don't want to. You can just call me Auntie. It feels a bit weird, since it's so soon after... well, their funeral."
  198.         "Can't you both be mommy?" Sammy asked, eyes tearing up again. Cassie frowned, her purr fading a bit as her heart ached from the question.
  199.         "W-well, if you're sure. You don't need to force yourself, but I'll be the best mommy I can!"
  200.         "How good is that?..."
  201.         "I... don't know?"
  202.         "You don't?"
  203.         "Nope!"
  204.         Sammy stared at Cassie with sleepy eyes, blinking a few times before a smile cracked onto her face and a small giggle came from the mouse.
  205.         "Mommy is weird."
  206.         "I warned you, didn't I?" Cassie giggled along with her.
  207.         "You don't know the half of it Sammy." Alex laughed. Cassie huffed and gave his shoulder a light swat, smile sticking to her face.
  208.         "Shush! Do you need me to check a map on my phone?"
  209.         "That would be nice, I'm good and lost now."
  210.         "Going to need my hand back sweetie."
  211.         Sammy let go of the were-cat's paw with a pout, Cassie taking her  phone out and tapping on the screen rapidly to find their way in the large city. Store fronts and parked cars passed by on either side, not much traffic in the area. After a minute, she found directions to the nearest ice cream parlor that was listed.
  212.         "Alright, take the second right down this street and go straight until seventeenth street. It'll be on the corner there."
  213.         "Thanks."
  214.         "Paaaaaw..." Sammy whined, reaching towards Cassie with both hands. Cassie smiled and purred again, putting her phone away and giving one paw up to the child to hold onto and feel her soft fur. Sammy remained very curious about the color, looking at the white on the underside and the splotches of black and orange on top. Cassie giggled and laughed when the little hands felt at her paw pads, squishing and rubbing them gently.
  215.         "Careful, I'm ticklish Sammy!"
  216.         "You are?... Sorry..."
  217.         "It's okay, just don't do it too much."
  218.         "Yeah, only I can tickle her till she can't stand it."
  219.         "Alex, shush!" Cassie held her free paw up, finger in front of her mouth. Sammy didn't really understand what they meant, and just kept playing with the odd paw-hand she had gotten her hands on. Squeezing the end of one finger, she forced Cassie's dulled claw out. The filed down point kept it from overgrowing, as Cassie had a distaste for clawing wood or other things as other were-cats might to wear them down. It also kept it safe as Sammy played with the limb.
  220.         "Your paw isn't like grammy's."
  221.         "Well, she's a kind of doggy and I'm a kitty."
  222.         "A calico kitty?"
  223.         "Yep!"
  224.         "A-are you going to eat me?"
  225.         "Only if I get really really hungry! Num!" Cassie giggled, leaning towards the mouse and nipping at her ear with her lips. Sammy squeaked and tried to get away, straps keeping her place as she closed her eyes and whined. Cassie just kept giggling and teasing the mouse, only stopping when she noticed they were parking.
  226.         "You're in luck Sammy, it's time for ice cream! I won't be eating you yet."
  227.         "P-Please don't eat me later..."
  228.         "I'm just kidding Sammy, don't worry." Cassie laughed, unable to help but hug the child as best  she could with their straps still in place. She took care of Sammy's belt before unbuckling her own, opening her door and stepping outside. Sammy followed her out, grabbing onto the cat's tail right away.
  229.         The shop was small and obviously family run, with a chalkboard advertising stand set up just outside the door and a very simple sign set up in view of the main street. A small parking lot would only allow ten cars at a time, round tables with red and white checkered tablecloths set on each table just outside the door and inside. Alex led the way in, a cowbell jangling with the opening of the glass door. Cassie skipped right over to the front, ice cream displayed with the names of their various flavors written onto small display plaques above each large tub in the freezer. A plethora of toppings and bowls waited behind the counter to be used, and the sound of more ice cream being milked and made came from the back room. Cassie ignored the mooing, the noise just coming off as natural background noise to her.
  230.         "D-do they have cookie?" Sammy asked, standing on tiptoes but barely able to see into the display case. Cassie tore her attention away from her thoughts, searching for the cookie dough flavor for the mouse.
  231.         "Yep, they have it right there. Do you want to try that one?"
  232.         "Mhm."
  233.         Cassie reached down and gently picked the mouse up, lifting her high enough to see what other flavors could be offered. The mouse looked into the case curiously, but with a bit of confusion.
  234.         "It's boring if you just get one kind, what else do you want?"
  235.         Sammy stayed quiet and looked through the options, a bit overwhelmed by the number. Alex just waited behind and watched the two get along, already decided in what he wanted to get. The mooing from the back room did catch his attention, even if the counter was manned by a younger holst trying not to listen to what was likely her parents were doing there.
  236.         "Can I have napoleon?"
  237.         "That's neopolitan. And of course you can! Do you want a sundae or an ice cream cone? They have lots of different cones and sundaes." Cassie asked, lifting the mouse higher as she stood up straight. She waited patiently for Sammy to make her decision, still debating her own options anyways.
  238.         "What kind is mommy g-getting?"
  239.         "I'm still picking."
  240.         "Can we get the same kind?"
  241.         "I don't see why not."
  242.         Sammy looked ahead, waiting for Cassie to make her choice. One menu option caught the cat's eyes and lit them up with excitement, though she turned to Alex to ask permission first.
  243.         "Can we get floats?!"
  244.         "Whats a floot?" Sammy asked.
  245.         "A float is ice cream floating in soda."
  246.         "Pop?"
  247.         "Well, that or cola."
  248.         "Cola isn't pop?"
  249.         "I think it is."
  250.         "But mommy asked like it wasn't."
  251.         "I did, didn't I?" Cassie asked, staring into space as if she found some profound truth of the universe right at that moment. Alex gently took Sammy from her and put the mouse on the ground, his wife remaining in her existential daze for unknown reasons to him.
  252.         "Are you allowed to have soda Sammy?"
  253.         "I dunno..." Sammy meekly replied, looking down at the ground.
  254.         "Well... have you had it before?"
  255.         "I think so?"
  256.         Alex sighed, patting her head and looking back at Cassie. He could only hope that when he was busy with work, the pair would be fine alone at home. Cassie got in trouble anytime she tried to cook anything more complicated than grilled cheese or something with directions on the box. He couldn't imagine a dormouse being hard to take care of in any case, and tried to stay optomistic.
  257.         "Alright, you can have floats. But just the small ones, you haven't had a chance to exercise in the past two days Cassie."
  258.         Cassie snapped out of her thoughts, looking straight at Alex with wide eyes. Pouting, she accepted the size limitation without a word spoken or any fuss. She knelt down and smiled at Sammy instead, giggling a bit at the cute mouse.
  259.         "Okay, what pop do you want?"
  260.         "To float?"
  261.         "Huh?"
  262.         Cassie tilted her head one way in her mild confusion, Sammy following the motion.
  263.         "We're floating a boat?" Cassie asked.
  264.         "But... th-there aren't boats..."
  265.         "It's a saying, whatever floats your boat."
  266.         "B-but boats are made to float in water..."
  267.         Cassie hummed, trading stares with the mouse for a long, awkward moment before standing and turning to face Alex. She moved up close, maintaining her smile until she started to whisper and her eyes teared up.
  268.         "I'm failing as a mother Alex! I don't know what we're talking about!"
  269.         "I'm a bit lost too."
  270.         "Aleeeeeex!"
  271.         Alex chuckled and patted Cassie's head, looking down at the confused Sammy and spotting an opportunity for his wife. The little dormouse's shoelace had come undone at some point and the laces lay on the floor just waiting for someone to re-tie them. He gestured to it with his head to bring it to the cat's attention, Cassie turning to spot the chance to redeem what mistake she believed she had made. She knelt down and reached for the strings, giggling with pride.
  272.         "How about I teach you how to tie these up? It's easy, you just do th-"
  273.         Cassie stopped mid-word as realization hit her, eyes wide and staring at the strings as her mind drew a blank. Her bare foot-paws laid testament to her lack of shoes. Never having actually tied a shoe up before, she was left in an even worse predicament. Alex realized what was wrong after a brief moment of confusion, and was about to step in to help when he saw Sammy set her stuffed dragon on the cat's head before kneeling. The dormouse was slow tying her own shoe back up, the time taken only making Cassie feel more embarrassed. Done with her task, Sammy stood back up and took her dragon off of her adoptive mother's head while Cassie remained frozen. The mouse blinked at her before raising one of her tiny hands, placing it on Cassie's head to pat it a few times.
  274.         "You tried..."
  275.         Cassie whined a bit, pout returning by the time she stood. Sammy moved forward and gave her legs a big hug, breaking the pout and spreading a tingly warmth through the were-cat. Alex chuckled at the scene but got tired of waiting, clearing his throat to get their attention.
  276.         "We should order soon if you want it. We won't be spoiling dinner by waiting around too long."
  277.         "Yeah, we need to get our treat fast! You wanted the cookies and cream, right?"
  278.         "N-no... the cookie dough." Sammy corrected Cassie, almost flustering her another time.
  279.         "Right, cookie dough. I'll get the orange, ad-"
  280.         "You know they only do vanilla and root beer floats here, right?" Alex interjected, making both the girls gasp in unison as they turned to look at him. Just before he could think he committed some sort of crime they turned their heads back around to face the counter.
  281.         "Lets get that."
  282.         "Yeah... that..."
  283.         "Classic is good!"
  284.         "Original is best..."
  285.         Cassie froze up when the words left Sammy's mouth, even if they were not meant in the way she took it. Alex didn't bother her, stepping up to order their floats and pay for the treats. Cassie's gaze drifted to the ground as her self doubt rose again, only looking up when Alex passed with their floats in hand. She raised her head and put on a strong face, following him to the table he picked with four chairs. Sammy got lifted up onto the child's seat by Alex before she started to eat her float, taste buds titillated. Cassie sat with Alex on her left and Sammy on her right, eating her ice cream far slower than the others.
  286.         "Sammy?"
  287.         "Mm?" Sammy responded, mouth full.
  288.         "Uhm... how do I put this gently... I can't help but feel like... I'm just a replacement, you know? I mean, for your real mom."
  289.         The young dormouse stared at Cassie, were-cat staring down at her treat with a slumped over posture and troubled look. Even Sammy's young, dreary mind could process and emphasize with what the older girl was talking about.
  290.         "I-It's not like th-that. I m-mean..." Sammy squeaked and squeezed her toy, getting some strength from it to continue. "Daddy and mommy said they thought you two would be good at being daddy and mommy, so... I dunno... I want you to be my mommy too..."
  291.         "So, because they believed in us?"
  292.         "I g-guess... you're different than grammy... she's nice, but not very fun. I like you as mommy..."
  293.         Cassie looked up at the dormouse slowly, Alex staying out of the conversation in order to let the two bond. She smiled, giggling a bit as her worries seemed to melt for the time being. She raised a paw and ruffled Sammy's hair, making the mouse squeak a small protest as her hair became messed up.
  294.         "Alright, sorry for sounding like a broken record. Just try and bear with it for a bit."
  295.         "What does a broken record sound like?..."
  296.         "Uhm... well, it starts repeating the same thing over and over."
  297.         "You don't sound like that..."
  298.         "If you say so. Thanks. How about a movie after this?"
  299.         "Sure..." Sammy smiled.
  300.  
  301.         Cassie groaned another time upon entering their hotel room, carrying the suitcase full of their new daughter's belongings inside with her. Right behind her, carrying a sleeping dormouse in his arms, was Alex. His expression contrasted with hers, where hers was exhausted and irritated his was in a state of calm zen. The cat set the suitcase down next to their own pair, moving to the bed to fall face first on top of it.
  302.         "That was terrible!"
  303.         "Mom didn't bite you this time." Alex teased. With no other room to put the small mouse, Alex set her on the only bed to slip her little shoes off. The size distracted him, so much smaller than he was used to dealing with. Even when one of the students lost one, it was at least three times larger than what he was holding.
  304.         "Why do you keep reminding me of that? My tail still hurts remembering it." Cassie grumbled, getting up to gently move Sammy under the blankets and tuck her in, not worrying about changing her out of the casual t-shirt and pants that the child had been changed into after dinner. The mouse snored with little squeaks, still not letting go of the stuffed dragon in her arms.
  305.         "Just reminding you it could be worse."
  306.         "I don't like that the worst thing that happened between me and her was during our wedding." The cat huffed, standing up and moving up to her husband. She pawed at his suit, feeling around for something. "Come on, I need one. Just one."
  307.         "I don't think you need one."
  308.         "It's just one so I can get to sleep before that morning flight."
  309.         "You didn't have any caffeine since the service, you'll be fine."
  310.         "And I want to tear your mother's fur out."
  311.         "Alright, you can have one." Alex sighed, reaching into his front pocket to take out what looked like a pack of cigarettes. Instead of labels warning users about various corruption based effects from the demon realm plants used to make cigarettes, the small box featured a small warning about using responsibly on the side and a minimalistic drawing of a white cat's head on the black background. Alex slipped one out and handed it to Cassie, the werecat taking it in her paw. He handed her the lighter next, Cassie scowling at the extra work it took with her paws. Alex just frowned at her and gestured towards Sammy with his eyes. Cassie looked towards the sleeper, sighing and heading for the balcony to enjoy the catnip.
  312.         "They don't have anything bad in them like the other ones yknow. Only affect cats!"
  313.         "Do you want Sammy to see you smoking those?"
  314.         "...No." Cassie mumbled, mixture of shame and guilt in her voice. She put an end of the stick in her mouth and worked on lighting it, Alex moving out next to her after closing the glass door behind them. He gazed out at the view, click clicking of the lighter stopping after a minute. Cassie moved her paw out of the way of the breeze and took a long drag, holding it in for a bit before breathing it out into the clear skies.
  315.         "Sure you want to smoke all of that?"
  316.         "My resistance will keep me from getting loopy."
  317.         Alex couldn't think of a time when she had gone nuts from the herb, not after he had started helping her get off the stuff in college. Back then she would smoke it all day and bake it into all sorts of things. Almost failed her courses until he stood up to whip her into shape. Was a bit of an odd way to meet a future wife, but something about taking care of the distressed feline stroked him the right way.
  318.         "Hey."
  319.         "Hm?"
  320.         "If she's six, why didn't we see her during our wedding? It was only five years ago."
  321.         "She was only a few months old back then. I was surprised when they said they were coming, I just sent their invite to be polite. They had someone take care of her for a few days so they could come."
  322.         "Oh... that makes sense."
  323.         Cassie took a small drag and puffed some smoke out that blew right back into her face. It got no more than a grumble out of her, nerves calming as the nip spread it's effect through her body. Alex's hand wandered while she remained distracted, creeping up behind Cassie before slapping her ass. She let out a startled yelp, nearly dropping her catnip from the surprise.
  324.         "Cheer up, taking care of Sammy might be a challenge for you but you won't be lonely at home anymore. Might have to give up a lot of your free time though."
  325.         "That's easy for you to say. I do the housework, when I remember... and I do my voice acting!"
  326.         "What's the current job?"
  327.         "Uhhhh, nothing yet. I sent an audition to a dubbing company though!"
  328.         "Hope it goes well."
  329.         "...Thanks~"
  330.         Cassie looked to Alex with a smile, putting the catnip out in the ashtray built into the railing. She turned towards her husband and put her paws on each of his cheeks to turn his face towards her. Alex turned his body to keep from straining his neck, Cassie pushing up against his body as her lips moved up to greet his own. She nibbled on his lip as a playful giggle came out of her, paws moving away from Alex's face to hold onto his neck for support. Her sizable chest pushed into his, purring rumbling from her body into his. Alex moved his hands around and to her ass, gripping the soft rump with both. Her tongue pushed into his mouth, the soft tiny 'barbs' on top rubbing against his own tongue in a pleasant way as the taste of the cinnamon flavored niporette greeted his taste buds.
  331.         After what felt like but a short few minutes but turned out to equal a small change in position of the sun on the horizon they broke apart, breathing heavy. A small peck on the lips later and Cassie peeled herself off Alex, having a hard time not going for the raging erection she had felt with her stomach.
  332.         "I'll head to bed first, I'll catch a shower in the morning." Cassie yawned, covering her mouth with one of her paw-hands. A giggle escaped when Alex's hand ruffled her hair, purr getting stronger.
  333.         "I'm going to relax out here for a bit. Calm my... nerves."
  334.         "Sorry."
  335.         "About what?"
  336.         Cassie chuckled, leaving the question unanswered to head inside. She slid the glass door closed behind her and set about changing out of the restrictive formal clothing she had worn all day, glancing back to see Alex watching. With this knowledge she put on a show, bending down to slip the panties off first. She stood up and enticed him, lowers still covered by the dress. She slipped her socks off next, almost giving her husband an up-skirt shot from each member of the pair. The dress was next, cat turning her back to use her dexterity and unzip herself. She tried to shake it off, but it was still too tight in the chest and forced her to slip it down teasingly slow. After what felt like ages she was in the nude, and slipped on the t-shirt Alex had flown in wearing. The plain black shirt covered her body in loose fabric right to her upper thighs.
  337.         Alex turned back around to lean on the railing and stare out at the city once the show was over, lights turning off behind him before Cassie slipped in beside Sammy. He started debating whether or not he should sleep on the couch that night. He decided it would be best, since he didn't want to have his new daughter develop an elektra complex or something similar. He had enough problems with that in class.  Cool night air and a purple sunset shining out between buildings did wonders calming his libido. His mind was allowed to wander for a while, until the sun's  light was all but gone and the light of the city replaced it.
  338.         He moved back inside and looked at the bed. Still purring was his wife, with the little dormouse held tight in her paws and her arms wrapped around her. Sammy's squeaky snoring continued uninterrupted and calmer than before, head tucked up against Cassie's neck. Cassie had a smile tuck to her face, though seemed to be drooling just a little bit at the corner of her mouth.
  339.         Once Alex got his fill of the scene he closed the curtains, took off his suit jacket, and retrieved a spare blanket from the room's closet. The couch was small, forcing his feet to hang off one end or his legs to be bent to fit. It was still soft, and once he laid down he closed his eyes to sleep. The only noise in the room was a rumbling purr and the squeaks of a mouse.
  340.         'How am I supposed to sleep with this racket?'
  341.  
  342.  
  343.         "Welcome home Sweetie!" Cassie cheered, entering their apartment first with her new daughter's suitcase in hand. Sammy took her shoes off at the door before the little feet patted away on the glossy wood, exploring the space while the were-cat giggled and watched. She went right to the kitchen first. She opened the oven and looked inside, closing it up and hopping to see if there was anything interesting on top of the counters. Sammy headed through the living area next, large television hung on the wall with white leather couch facing it. The mouse inspected it and the devices attached, getting excited when she noticed all the games tucked neatly into the bookcase beside the setup. She eventually peeled herself away, going to the patio door to peek out. The bouncy mouse froze for a moment before backing away, stepping to the window and opening the curtains while standing on her tiptoes to look at the barbeque set up on the small patio. She closed the curtains after and retreated, heading for the hallway dug into the living room's wall on the other side of the kitchen.
  344.         Alex moved in behind the girls and around Cassie, taking their suitcases to the bedroom one door to the left down the hall and dodging Sammy as the excited dormouse scampered past him to see everything. Past the master bedroom and it's king sized bed was an empty storage room, not holding her attention for even a second. She spotted the bathroom straight down the short hallway next. After peeking inside she turned to the right, laundry area with two compact machines and empty whicker baskets sitting in a row on the floor.
  345.         Sammy headed back down the other way and checked the last two doors opposite the bedrooms, first next to the bathroom being a small room with thick noise-proofed walls, a comfy looking chair, expensive microphone, and multiple computers attached to large computer screens in the somewhat untidy space. The next room was Alex's office, window letting sunlight in to land on the large desk full of very neat stacks of paper and assorted office tools. A computer screen sat on one corner of the stained wood furniture with the rest of the device's parts hidden within the work space. Filing cabinets and a wall of bookcases full of school books took up the other wall. A framed teaching license and a couple local awards hung behind the desk with a few personal photos hanging around them. Sammy stared at the one taken on their wedding, Cassie pouting in her white dress while Alex applied disinfectant to her tail.
  346.         With the apartment fully explored Sammy turned and made her way back to Cassie, running into her and hugging the were-cat's lower body.
  347.         "It's small here."
  348.         "You don't like it? I think it's cozy."
  349.         "I like small."
  350.         Cassie smiled and ruffled Sammy's hair, getting a squeak out of the mouse but also a happy smile.  She leaned down and scooped Sammy up under her other arm, carrying her towards the bathroom with a wide grin.
  351.         "That's good, but it's time for a bath!"
  352.         "Yaaay, bath."
  353.         Cassie paused, looking down at the mouse with her arms and legs dangling. Sammy looked back with sleepy eyes and wondering why they stopped.
  354.         "You like baths?"
  355.         "Yeah." Sammy nodded, small neutral smile still on her face.
  356.         "Huh. I used to hate it when I was a kitten."
  357.         "You did?"
  358.         "Yeah, but most kittens do." Cassie giggled, walking into the bathroom, leaving the door ajar. She set the suitcase on the counter and the mouse down on the ground before moving to the tub, turning it on to start filling it.
  359.         "I usually took showers though..."
  360.         "Not baths? Why not?"
  361.         "I dunno."
  362.         Cassie glanced back at Sammy as she tried to think of why. Nothing came to mind , so she turned around and looked for the bubblebath. Sammy went to the counter, reaching up and trying to open her suitcase up herself before giving up and looking for a stool to use to make it easier. When none turned up she whined and moved over to Cassie, grabbing her tail with her small hands. It got her attention away from the filling bath, looking back at Sammy to see what was wrong.
  363.         "S-stool..."
  364.         It took a moment for Cassie to process what she meant, ears perking up once she managed to decipher the ornate riddle.
  365.         "Alex! Add bathroom stool to the list!"
  366.         "Got it. I'll add kitchen stool too." Alex called back, coming out of the bedroom with their dirty clothing destined for the wash cycle. Cassie smiled and looked back to Sammy, patting her head.
  367.         "There, we'll get it for you today alright?~"
  368.         "Th-thank you..."
  369.         Cassie giggled again, hugging the brown mouse before standing and opening the suitcase for her, looking through it before squealing and holding up a pair of overalls crossed with shorts.
  370.         "Alex look, it's so adorable!"
  371.         His head leaned into the doorway, looking at the tiny article of clothing his wife was holding up to show him. Sammy wasn't looking in his direction, attracting his to the tub.
  372.         "Tub is going to overflow."
  373.         "Hm?..."
  374.         Cassie turned around, tail puffing up a slight bit in panic before she put the garment aside and dove down to turn the taps off. Sammy moved to the counter to put her stuffed dragon on it for safe keeping before taking her clothes off, Cassie picking out a shirt to go with the overalls once the panic had passed. Now in the nude, Sammy held the bundle of dirty clothes up for Alex to take away with him. His expression didn't change as he took them, patting the mouse's head as a reward.
  375.         "Thanks Sammy. Have a good bath."
  376.         "You're welcome Daddy..." Sammy smiled. Obediantely she turned and moved to the nice hot, sudsy water to slip in up to her chin, sitting on the bottom of the tub to start soaking with her hair floating up near the surface around her. Cassie looked at her and giggled, closing the suitcase and carrying it off into the living room before returning with a skip in her step. She stripped down as quick as she could, picking up the clothes and taking them just outside to hand to Alex.
  377.         "Cassie, don't run around naked."
  378.         "Why not?"
  379.         "Example."
  380.         "...Oh! OH!! Uhm.. I'll remember next time?"
  381.         "Good girl."
  382.         Cassie skipped back into the bathroom, carefully stepping into the bath with Sammy and letting out a relaxed sigh once she sunk into the hot water. The water nearly went over the edge, overflow drain slurping as it sucked down the displaced excess. Sammy stared at her adoptive mother, so long so Cassie started to stare back while waiting for the question.
  383.         "You didn't bring clothes."
  384.         "Hm? Oh, I just forgot~" Cassie laughed it off, pulling Sammy closer and getting the louffa and some soap to start washing the little mouse. The mouse accepted the answer, more focused on the soft washing tool rubbing against her skin and making her squeak happily. Were-cat kept washing, getting every inch of her right down to the toes she just scrubbed with the fur of her paw-hand's fingers to get in between them well even as Sammy squirmed and laughed. Cassie took extra time cleaning the little feet, smile only growing from the squirming of the mouse. Finally, she scrubbed shampoo into Sammy's scalp and let it soak in to move onto herself. With a minute without the tickling to think, Sammy stared at her adoptive mother as if something mystified her. Cassie finally noticed, scrubbing shampoo into her furry arms.
  385.         "What is it Sammy?"
  386.         "I thought kitties don't like water..."
  387.         "We get used to it eventually~" Cassie smiled, resuming her scrubbing to get her fur well washed. "I didn't really like it till I was nine."
  388.         "I like showers. Baths are nice  too." Sammy smiled, blowing bubbles in the water. Cassie giggled and started to purr, getting to her legs before noticing something odd. She splashed the bubbles to the side, eyes widening when she saw the water had turned a caramel brown. She stood and lept from the water, rushing to Alex as fast as her legs could carry her.
  389.         "Something's wrong!!"
  390.         "Whats wrong?"
  391.         "Th-the waters brown!"
  392.         Sammy began to worry as Alex ran into the bathroom, looking at the brown water while she was scooped out of it by Cassie, held in the air by her while the odd phenomenon was inspected. Alex felt it with one hand before bringing a handful up and taking a whiff, dropping it and letting out a breath of relief.
  393.         "It's tea."
  394.         "Tea?"
  395.         "Dormouse tea. They make it in wonderland, guess that's why she doesn't have baths."
  396.         "...you can make tea with a dormouse?"
  397.         "Well, it's their demonic energy. Look, it's fine. Just switch to a shower and let the water drain." Alex instructed them, opening the drain himself before drying his hand on a towel. Cassie let out a large sigh of relief, putting Sammy back in the draining water before pulling the shower curtain closed.
  398.         "Thank goodness! We're going to need to read up on raising dormice..."
  399.         "Sorry mommy... daddy..."
  400.         "It's okay Sammy, you just keep staying sweet~" Cassie giggled, turning the shower on to get a squeak out of Sammy when the cold water hit her before the hot water came through the pipes. The cat got back into the shower with her, water quickly running down the drain even with the shower adding to it.
  401.         Alex smiled and left the bathroom, letting the pair finish their shower to head to the kitchen and find something that would be suitable for brunch. Deciding to go with waffles, he brought out the waffle iron and started pre-heating before getting the mix ready.
  402.         Just as the first batch of waffles were being poured, Sammy stepped into the kitchen with a pitter patter wearing the pink t-shirt with overall shorts overtop that the resident cat had picked out. She walked right into Alex's side, hugging his lower body as tight as her little arms could manage. Alex smiled down at her, ruffling her clean dry hair with his free hand.
  403.         "It'll be ready soon, I'll get you some milk."
  404.         "M'kay." Sammy smiled up at him. Alex had to walk with the mouse attached to his leg to get a glass and the carton of milk from the fridge, pouring a full glass for her. Sammy let go of his leg and took the cup from him once it was handed down, sipping at the thick creamy milk on her way to the small round table and taking a seat at one of the chairs. Her head was the only part the poked up over the edge, almost hiding her from view.
  405.         Cassie came skipping out from the bedroom next, coming up behind Alex and pushing her freshly clothed but still warm body up against his back in a tight purring hug.. Alex fumbled a bit when he felt the vibrating chest of his wife against him, but the four waffles the iron had made still ended up on the plate instead of the ground.
  406.         "Don't sneak up on me like that."
  407.         "But it's fun~"
  408.         "For you it is."
  409.         "You don't like it?"
  410.         She squeezed just a bit tighter, knowingly pushing her large chest harder into Alex's back. He nearly spilled the batter all over the iron from the soft pressure, heaving breath coming out of his nose.
  411.         "I don't mind it. You two take the first four, have two more here for me."
  412.         "Thanks Alex!"
  413.         A smile spread on his face as his wife snatched the plate up, getting the maple syrup out of the fridge before carrying both carefully to the table. Seeing the height problem Sammy was having, Cassie set the items down and moved off again before returning with a pile of spare blankets from their bedroom, Sammy getting off the seat until Cassie could put them down and lift her on top of the pile.
  414.         "You keep from dripping syrup on those, they're clean. Alex, booster seat for the list!"
  415.         "Already got it on there."
  416.         "So, where should we go to get all this stuff?" Cassie inquired, sitting in her seat but pouring Sammy's syrup first, giving her a tad too much before putting the same amount on hers. Sammy smiled and picked up her fork and butterknife, cutting into the tasty meal.
  417.         "Thanks for the food daddy!"
  418.         "You're welcome sweetie." Alex replied, getting to Cassie's question next. "Just go to Wurm-mart. She'll outgrow the clothes pretty quick, so get them a size larger. Except the underwear."
  419.         "Why not the underwear?"
  420.         "Would you buy loose panties?"
  421.         "....Oh! Got it, fitting underwear."
  422.         “I'd assume that would be common sense.”
  423.         “Of course it is, don't tease.” Cassie huffed.
  424.         “Daddy isn't coming with us?” Sammy cut in, Alex shaking his head no as he plated his waffles and took them to his seat.
  425.         “No, I need to catch up on my work before tomorrow. Substitute teachers only keeps things running for a day, they don't grade the papers that get turned in.”
  426.         “Daddys a teacher?”
  427.         “Yep. It'll be a while before I see you in my class though.”
  428.         “Why's that?”
  429.         “I teach grade nine.”
  430.         “...okay.” Sammy pouted, returning to her waffles. Alex sighed and scowled, feeling guilty seeing the little girl like that. Cassie washed down a large bite and spoke up to bail him out.
  431.         “Doesn't your school do a 'take your kid to work' day? I can't remember when that is, but you could take her in then. Might get that girl that's always flirting with you off your back.” Cassie suggested, no loss of a grudge lost speaking about the student in question.
  432.         “That's in a couple months. What do you think Sammy?”
  433.         “Mhmmmm.” Sammy nodded, mouthful of waffle keeping her mouth closed.
  434.         “It's decided then.” Cassie stated, finishing off her waffles as quick as she could. Once her plate was clean and put in the dish-washer, the cat bounced off to retrieve her purse. The little mouse kept munching her breakfast, smaller mouth and sleepy eyes keeping her pace sluggish. Eventually she finished and washed it down with the last of her milk, heading to the door to get her own shoes on.
  435.         Alex ate his own waffles at his own pace, watching as the mother and daughter went out the door hand in hand as he gave a small wave. Cassie closed the door behind them and led the way to the elevator, glancing at the dormouse when she felt the child lagging behind. Seeing her about to fall asleep on her feet, Cassie sighed with a smile and stopped to scoop her up in her arms in order to carry the drowsy child to the car. Down to the building's parking complex, and to her small red car to put Sammy in her child's seat in the back seat. Getting into the front seat, she started her car and began to pull out before stopping when she heard her phone jingle. Parking again, she pulled it out to check it, seeing Alex had texted her the list she had forgotten.
  436.         “Jeez, I'd forget my own panties if I-”
  437.         Realization struck her face, embarrassment quick to vanish when she heard Sammy whining in her sleep. Looking back at her child, Cassie saw the scared look on the mouse's face. She carefully flipped her tail back towards the grabbing child's hand, letting her hold onto the end. That seemed to calm her, smile returning to the cat's face as she looked forward to get back to driving. She quieted the radio so the mouse could keep sleeping, squeezing the stuffed dragon in her arms and the tail in her small hand. The drive went slow and quiet, cat not wanting to wake the little mouse in the back seat. A worried whine came from the back seat as Cassie turned off the main street to head towards Wurm-mart, heat making the air over the asphalt shimmer.
  438.         “Mommy...”
  439.         “I'm right here Sammy.”
  440.         “Mkay...”
  441.         Cassie giggled and glanced into the back seat to look at Sammy. The mouse seemed half awake now that they were nearing their destination, yawning behind the stuffed toy. It didn't take long for them to park, Cassie humming as she looked out at two sweaty hellpups with their father walking towards the front door.
  442.         “Guess I should have bought some water... well, we can get some inside I guess.”
  443.         “We need water?”
  444.         “Well, you do. You don't want to dry out, do you?”
  445.         “I like raisins...”
  446.         “...okay?”
  447.         Cassie reached back to pat Sammy's head, dormouse squeaking a tiny bit before looking around to see where they had ended up since her nap began. Cassie got out of the driver's seat first, opening the rear door to reach in and unbuckle her child. Free from her restraints, Sammy got out of the car and reached up towards her mother with her free hand. Cassie smiled and took her hand with one of her paws, locking the car with the free hand and leading the way towards the door. Chilled air blasted them once they got through the automatic sliding doors, cat heading for the shopping carts first. She pulled one out and picked up Sammy, plopping her into the  seat. Placing her purse on the mouse's lap, she pushed it into the store and began looking around.
  448.         “Alright Sammy, what's first on the list?”
  449.         Sammy jumped, looking away from a display of sugary cereal. Cassie handed the phone to the nervous child, list already on the screen for the little one to attempt to read. She began to sound out the letters, squinting a little at the small letters.
  450.         “S-Choo-l soup-lies?... Why would soup lie about stuff? Is soup bad?...”
  451.         “No, soup can't talk... I think?” Cassie paused, questioning the thought before shaking it out of her head. “So, we need school supplies! I guess it is about that time. What grade are you going into?”
  452.         “Uhm... I think it was... I uhm... I graduated from... kindergarten already...”
  453.         Cassie hummed, watching the mouse start to fall asleep again in the cart. She scooped her up, half awake mouse blinking as she was set in the upper section of the cart and the purse was placed down for use as a pillow.
  454.         “First grade~ You can take a nap if you want, I'll find everything else on the list. Kay?”
  455.         “Mkay...”
  456.         Sammy yawned and laid down, resting her head on the purse and curling up with her dragon hugged tight in her arms. The werecat couldn't help giggling and staring, picking her phone up to handle the list herself while pushing the cart along. Wide smile stuck to her face, she tracked down and snatched up all the papers, pencils, crayons, and other supplies that might be needed with a backpack to put it in.
  457.         Cassie continued on to fill the rest of the list, moving about the aisles in a disorderly fashion and taking a lot longer than needed for the task by getting lost several times. She stopped to rest and wait for the mouse to wake up when it came time to buy clothes and a winter jacket, just playing on her phone and smiling at the snoozing mouse in the rather full cart of supplies. Then came a voice to disturb her, Cassie turning toward the woman it came from. A minotaur and an oni in casual clothing stood behind the name tagged tanuki manager, none looking impressed.
  458.         “Miss, can you come with us please?”
  459.         “Hm?”
  460.  
  461.  
  462.         Another marked essay was placed on the slowly growing pile to the side. Two hours had passed the teacher by since he had started. If it were a less important project, he would have skimmed the contents of the pages but this one was important. The double spaced, large lettered, rule bending essay handed in by a barely literate ogre was a time saving treat for him, but the next one snatched the time back away from him with it's small print and tightly packed content. The flowery words and the small love notes tucked into the sides of the history paper let him know right away it was the work of a certain houri. The ringing of his phone gave him reprieve, Alex putting it on speaker with a touch of his hand once he noticed who it was.
  463.         “Hey Cass, how is the sh-”
  464.         “ALEX! Ineedyouto- they thought I was a napper! The papers! B-bring the papers!”
  465.         Temporarily stunned by the continued, panicked rambling, he caught his bearings and cut her off.
  466.         “Cassie. Deep breaths. What's wrong?”
  467.         “S-security thought I was a kidnapper! Th-th-th-... They said I needed some papers or something to make s-sure I was really her mother! But I am! I'm her mom! Why won't they believe me?! Wheredidtheyt-take her?!”
  468.         “I'll bring the papers, sit tight and relax.” Alex instructed, standing up and stretching his aching limbs. “Don't worry, Sammy will be safe. Just try to be patient.”
  469.         “Okay... please hurry!”
  470.         “I will, hold tight.”
  471.         Alex ended the call, knowing that they'd keep going forever if he didn't. Forgetting the school papers on the desk, he hurried to the file cabinet to fish out the papers he had only just put into their place a few hours before. With those in hand he rushed to the door, throwing his jacket on and stashing the documents in the inner pocket. He rushed out the door only to stop on his heel after ten feet, running back to grab his keys. Making sure he had everything before leaving this time, he ran straight for his vehicle.
  472.         The whole drive he was tapped the wheel, keeping as composed a face as possible through the urgency. His driving suffered. He nearly tail ended a jeep with an oni driving, ran a yellow light despite the quietly seething mantis waiting to turn, and rolled over the end of a wurm's tail turning off  towards Wurm-mart. Thankfully the wurm didn't even notice, to his great relief.
  473.         He parked as quick as he could manage, nearly forgetting to lock the vehicle rushing towards the door of the huge store. Inside, it took him only a few moments to spot a scared looking dormouse on the customer service counter with a distressed tanuki trying to console her. He walked as quick towards them as she could, Sammy noticing his approach and reaching out with her arms, whining “Daaaadddyyyyy!!...”
  474.         Alex scooped her up into a tight hug, the small mouse clinging to his neck and clothes as tight as her little hands could. Giving his daughter comforting strokes along her back, Alex turned to the relieved tanuki with a stern glare. Seeing his expression, the manager flinched and retreated a step.
  475.         “Where's my wife?”
  476.         “We looked everywhere, but we couldn't find a dormouse that was missing a child. We think she wandered... out... and forgot about her?” The manager shrunk down, backing away from the furious look on the taller male's face.
  477.         “I have the adoption papers here. My wife is a werecat, about as tall as you, with a calico hair color, cut short, and yellow eyes. She's wearing a plain orange t-shirt with jean shorts.” Alex explained, not changing his stern expression. The dormouse twisted in his arms to look at the tanuki, worried about where her mother was as she clung to Alex's shirt.
  478.         The tanuki went wide eyed and starting to sweat, realizing the true gravity of the situation now. She still mustered up the nerve to take the papers and check them over but it only terrified her further. Panic set into her mind as she tried to think of some way to save face, handing the papers back to Alex once she thought she had it.
  479.         “Weeeeelll!! This is a silly mistake we've made, hahaha!! It's just that usually when a cat has a mouse in her cart, she's trying to bring her back to her husband! Kidnappings are pretty common, we need to stay vigilant! We're very sorry for the trouble~ We had your best interests at heart, we just di-”
  480.         “Just let my wife out already.” Alex ordered with a leer and a frown. Hopes of calming the man dashed, the tanuki ran off and towards an unmarked door a short distance away with an oni loitering by it. After panicked explanations, the door was opened up and a nervous looking calico were-cat stepped out. Cassie spotted the pair of them by the customer service desk and perked up immediately. Seeing his wife getting a running start, Alex braced himself just before the cat ran and bounced up to hug him as tight as she could, getting Sammy in the hug too.
  481.         “Thanks Alex, I was really worried! Sammy! Are you okay?!” Cassie asked, loosening the hug to look at her in the face. Sammy nodded, a little 'yeah' coming from her while clutching as Cassie's shirt. The cat smiled, letting a sight of relief slip out.
  482.         “So, how about I give you folks whatever you wanted to get for free? We already put the stuff in your cart away, but I can help-” The manager asked meekly, cut off before she could finish.
  483.         Cassie turned toward the tanuki, rage strewn across her face as the pent up nerves were hit by the tanuki's tone. A hiss quite like an actual cat came before the torrent of rambling, angry words that flew out of her mouth at the stunned manager. Alex had covered the child's ears as soon as the hiss had come out, letting his wife get the anger out of her system. The tirade only stopped when her cellphone rang with a distinct 'nya'ing theme song, snapping her out of the tantrum so she could fish it out of her purse and answer with a sweet chime to her voice.
  484.         “Hello? Oh, Gloria? What's up?... Mhmm... yeah... Hm?...” Cassie paused, listening intently while the others stared. Seeing the swearing was finished, Alex removed his hand from the top of Sammy's curious head, staring at her mother and the twitching cat tail behind her.
  485.         “...I got it? They said yes?!” Cassie exclaimed, ears perking straight up. In her excitement she turned and leapt at Alex again with arms spread wide, squeak coming from Sammy as the two collided and the werecat laughed with delight. “I did it Alex! I did it did itdidit!! YESSSSSS! Lets go to Mausburger to celebrate!”
  486.         “M-mouse burger?”
  487.         “Not real mice sweetie, it's run by mice~” Cassie giggled, letting go and kissing the little one's forehead while ruffling her hair.
  488.         “What part did you get?” Alex asked, unphased.
  489.         Cassie stared at him with a blank face for a few moments, realization snapping her back to reality before she slapped the phone back against her face.
  490.         “Are you still there Gloria?... Sorry, got a bit excited. What part did I get anyways?... Mhm... Oh... uhhh... no, that's fine! I mean, I'm more practiced with that sort of character... Alright, I'll get on it  tomorrow. Thanks Gloria!”
  491.         Cassie took the phone away from her face, red mark on the side. As she ended the call, she looked up at Alex and Sammy with a wide, somehow neutral smile.
  492.         “I'm going to be the bad guy again.”
  493.         Alex sighed, sympathetic smile on his face. The dormouse blinked and tilted her head a slight bit in her confusion.
  494.         “Bad guy?”
  495.         “Uhm, I'm not the bad guy, the character in the show I'll be giving a voice to is.” Cassie tried to explain as simply as possible. Feeling Sammy squirm, Alex set her down so the mouse could walk over to her mother and grab onto the bottom of her shirt.
  496.         “Why do you need to help a bad person?”
  497.         “Uhm... uhhh... they're...” Cassie hesitated, remembering what she said before about her voicing work to the mouse. “Well... if the bad people have no voice, how will the good guys hear them coming? The bad people talk a whole lot before doing something evil, right?”
  498.         Cassie smiled down at Sammy, hoping the answer would make sense somehow. The mouse thought about it for what seemed a long time, staring right into her eyes the whole time before humming and looking down a bit.
  499.         “That makes sense.”
  500.         She let out a sight of relief, putting her phone away and slinging her purse back onto her shoulder before taking Sammy's hand in her own. Looking at Alex to see what they would do next, she followed his eyes as they shifted to the manager still stunned from the sailor talk Cassie had blasted her with.
  501.         “Uhm... miss?” Cassie asked, jumping a bit when the tanuki did. The manager stared at them wide eyed for a moment before gathering herself and her dignity by clearing her throat.
  502.         “So, uhhh... do you want that freebie to make up for all this trouble? I'll still need to explain it to my own bosses after, but it's better than the alternative...” Lamented the ringtail.
  503.         “We'll take you up on that. You deliver bed sets and mattresses, right?” Alex asked.
  504.         “Uhhh... yeah, but I wasn't expecting you to-”
  505.         “You are giving us a free order to make up for unlawfully detaining my wife, right?”
  506.         “I'm not sure it's legally like that-”
  507.         “We can ask my lawyer.”
  508.         “Yes, yes we do deliver! But please be reasonable with your order, alright?” She laughed, nervousness over it bleeding right into her voice.
  509.         “Just what we need for Sammy. Come on, lets hurry so we can finish up before dinner time. Yes, we can go to Mausburger.”
  510.         Cassie gave a cheer, throwing her free arm up into the air. Seeing this, Sammy made her own little cheer and threw her free arm up as well. She gave a gasp when her stuffed dragon flew out of her hand, watching it land on the ground a short distance away before letting go of her mother's paw to quickly grab it and come back. Taking the giggling cat's tail in hand, the mouse looked up and smiled. Cassie smiled back, paw going down to pat her head just before Alex's patted hers.
  511.         “Alright, we're going. Geez~” Cassie laughed.
  512.         “Do we gotta get the stuff again mommy?” Sammy asked, following the adults on the way to get a couple of carts for their spree.
  513.         “Yeah, though you were asleep last time... this time you can pick out even better stuff!”
  514.         “Yay!...” Sammy cheered, sleepiness contributing to her lack of emotion. “But not nose stuff.”
  515.         “Nose stuff?”
  516.         “Icky.”
  517.         “...oh, yeah. Don't go picking nose stuff. I have tissues in my purse if you need them.”
  518.         “Kay.”
  519.         Alex pulled out one cart from the line and pushed it out of the way, a second getting pulled out for him to take. Cassie took a moment to get what he was doing, putting her purse in the first one and taking the handle.
  520.         “So, we going to get different stuff or what?” Cassie inquired of Alex. “Uhm, I mean split up and... yeah.”
  521.         “Nooooooo...” Sammy complained, squeezing the tail tighter in her small hand. “I don't want mommy or daddy going away.”
  522.         Cassie and Alex turned towards Sammy, cat scowling and looking at Alex. He chuckled and nodded.
  523.         “Alright, we'll stick together and take our time. I'll have enough time to finish my work later.”
  524.         Cassie and Alex turned again, starting to move before the cat stopped in her spot and looked back at the mouse, shifting her weight from one leg to the other while keeping hold of her tail.
  525.         “I need to pee...”
  526.         “...Oh! Alright, bathrooms are right over here. Just a sec Alex.” Cassie smiled, letting go of the cart and letting Alex guard her purse. Leading the mouse over to the bathroom and opening the door for her, she waited for the mouse to take care of the business herself. Sammy moved inside, but didn't let go of the tail and tugged on it, pouting up at the adult.
  527.         “You can go yourself, can't you?” Cassie asked. Sammy kept pouting, whining a bit while continuing her potty dance.
  528.         “I don't want you going away again...”
  529.         Cassie frowned, guilt hitting her for no reason other than her being the one to hear it. Looking around, she moved into the bathroom and up to the stall. She opened the stall door for Sammy, mouse moving in and handing her stuffed dragon over to the cat before closing it behind her.
  530.         Cassie sighed, waiting just outside for Sammy to finish up while holding the plushie in her arms. Looking at it more closely to pass time, she began to ponder what source material it was based on. The opening door made her jump and look towards the noise. In walked a kitsune with long blonde hair, walking up to the mirror to brush her locks after glancing at the cat. Cassie ignored her as well, a small scared voice coming from behind her.
  531.         “Are you there?”
  532.         “I'm right here sweetie.”
  533.         The awkwardness continued, Cassie glancing at the fox that seemed to be minding her own business. She rationalized that the girl didn't even care, though the thought didn't stick in her mind. No more than ten seconds later, the same voice came from the stall.
  534.         “Mommy?”
  535.         “I'm still here. Olivia too.”
  536.         Cassie glanced at the fox again, averting her eyes when she noticed the yellow eyes looking back from the smiling, giggling face. The kitsune headed back out the door, three tails twitching behind her as she left. Cassie sighed in relief, toilet flushing and stall door opening soon after. She dodged the hands trying to get her tail, letting out little 'Tet tet' sounds before Sammy stopped and looked up at her in confusion.
  537.         “Wash them first silly.”
  538.         “Mkay.”
  539.         Sammy moved to the sink, standing on her tiptoes to reach up and try to get it. Cassie giggled and moved up behind her, setting the stuffed dragon down on the counter before gently taking hold of the mouse under her arms to lift her up. With the boost, the little one completed her task before being set down and moving to the hand dryer. Cassie picked up the plushie and waited, noticing the dormouse rubbing her hands around while the blowers worked.
  540.         “Watcha doin there?”
  541.         “Rubbin.”
  542.         “Rubbing?”
  543.         “Make it dry faster.”
  544.         “...it does?”
  545.         “Yeah.”
  546.         “Huh...”
  547.         Cassie stared, not quite understanding how it worked. In a shorter time than she expected, the little hands were indeed dry and her perplexion was further inflamed. With the task done, Sammy took hold of tail in one hand and plush dragon in the other to hug tight against her while the mother led the mouse out. She grabbed the handles of her cart again and smiled at
  548.         “Alright, we're all ready to get shopping! What should we get first?”
  549.         “Furniture, and the bed more importantly. Would be nice if we could have her in it by tonight.” Alex answered, looking away from the cookie display he had been standing beside. “What kind of cookie do you want as a treat for later Sammy?”
  550.         Hearing her name, Sammy looked first at Alex and then at the boxes of cookies. She stared for only a moment before looking back up at him and answering.
  551.         “Peamut butter.”
  552.         “Isn't that peanut butter?” Cassie asked.
  553.         “Peamut butter.” Sammy repeated, innocent but confident gaze shifting to the cat. Cassie just giggled and patted her head. Alex took one box of the peanut butter cookies and set it into his wife's cart before leading them away, Cassie following and towed the sleepy mouse with her tail. She took the time to peek at the ingredients and nutritional information on the box, not really understanding any of it.
  554.         “What kind of bed do you want Sammy?” Alex inquired as they arrived at their destination, a large space set aside for displaying the mattresses and bed sets in the far off corner of the store. A rather prominant series of signs on red with black letters warned people to avoid improper behavior on the beds under threat of legal action, nearly every display bed having one  of the signs right beside it.
  555.         Sammy looked up at Alex, before around at the beds, and back up at him.
  556.         “I choose?”
  557.         “Of course. You'll be sleeping in it, you should be comfortable.”
  558.         Nervous and unsure, Sammy turned back towards the display beds and squeezed both things in her hands to comfort herself. When she tried to move towards the first bed, she was stopped dead in her tracks when Cassie didn't come with her. Looking back at the cat, she waited for her to follow. Cassie giggled and stepped away from her cart, leading Sammy to the first bed. The little mouse only let go of the tail to try and climb up onto it, having to be lifted up onto it by Cassie. As soon as she was on the bed, she fell over on her face and fell asleep. Cassie stared for a minute, waiting for something to happen.
  559.         “Uhm... Sammy?”
  560.         “Murmmirb...” Replied the muffled voice of the mouse. Cassie gently turned her over onto her side to see she had indeed fallen asleep.
  561.         “Guess she likes this one?” Cassie asked, looking back at Alex for guidance. Instead of him answering, the sleeping mouse spoke in response.
  562.         “Too hard...”
  563.         Confused, bewildered, and mystified with the on topic sleep talking, Cassie looked at Alex again for any sort of answer. He was just as surprised as she was, but chuckled at the scenario.
  564.         “Well, lets put her on the others and see what she thinks.”
  565.         Cassie hummed, turning back to Sammy and lifting the mouse up gently. Moving to the next bed and setting the sleeping mouse down, she waited to see how she liked it. Eventually Sammy spoke in her sleep again.
  566.         “...too... shoft...”
  567.         Cassie giggled in amusement, picking her up and moving her to the next while Alex watched. Eventually the testing was complete, wide grin on Cassie's face as she carried Sammy back to the carts and set the mouse in hers to nap again.
  568.         “She likes that one!” She pointed, towards one at the back. Alex headed over to get the item number, before back to the carts.
  569.         “Alright, lets get the rest of it. And a book on dormice.”
  570.  
  571.  
  572.         Sunset drifted below the horizon and the clocks neared the ninth hour. Night spread across the sky, and inside a small apartment a werecat with tortoiseshell colored hair crept into the room her husband was busy working in. At his desk and with complete concentration on the last few papers left to grade, he didn't notice the large cat sneaking around behind him from the door at the side of the room. Despite the late hour he took his time checking the papers over, marking each one while unaware of Cassie waiting behind him with her cat-like focus keeping her ready to pounce. The moment he set the last paper on the graded pile and stretched his sore limbs, two paws wrapped around him and stroked his chest. The sudden contact made him jolt before relaxing again, not fighting the happy feline that pressed her chest into his shoulders and sniffed at his hair.
  573.         “Looks like we're both done working today, huh?” She purred, voice and body. “And it's been a few days since we've had time to have some fun. How about it?”
  574.         “How am I supposed to say no?” Alex asked, standing from his chair with the cat's paw-hands still stroking at his mid-section. He took hold of her hands and led her along, awkward steps taking both of them towards their bedroom while Cassie giggled and rubbed her face into his back. One hand tried to sneak down, but was held fast and paw pad tickled by one of Alex's fingers as punishment.
  575.         Giggling and giddy, Cassie waited until her paws were released to push Alex down on the bed, hunger in her eyes. He didn't fight against it and turned over, the large chest of his wife pressing into the bulge contained within his pants. Cassie giggled again, laying there and pushing his shirt up with her hands to rub the pads into his skin and rest her face on his faint abs. His hand drifted down to her head and scratched behind one of her ears, the vibrating of her body running through her chest and right into the erection dying to get out of his jeans. He removed his shirt for her, tossing it aside for her. Cassie drifted down and hungrily started to undo his belt. Eyes locked onto his own, lusty smile on her face, her fingers worked slow to tease him.
  576.         “Moooommmyyyy...”
  577.         Cassie froze, blinking a couple times once her brian registered the voice coming from the hallway. Alex was caught off guard too and shared in the moment of silence before the small worried voice came again, their door opening to the wet eyed mouse in her pajamas on the other side.
  578.         “Moommmyy...?”
  579.         Cassie snapped to a sitting position, turning her face towards Sammy with the most innocent smile she could manage from between Alex's legs. Seeing the shaking, teary dormouse she immediately got off the bed and moved over, kneeling down to give her a hug and rub her back while Sammy clutched at her shirt with her little hands.
  580.         “What's wrong sweetie? Do you need more water?”
  581.         “I had a nightmare...” Sammy replied, muffled by the werecat and her shirt.
  582.         “What kind of nightmare?” Cassie asked, loosening her hug to look into the mouse's face and wipe the tears with the fur of her hands.
  583.         “...there was smoke everywhere... it was really hot... and I couldn't find mommy or daddy...” Sammy sniffled, looking down at Cassie's shirt, unable to see the mix of worry and fright on the cat's face. Cassie turned towards Alex with the same look, pulling Sammy into a tighter hug.
  584.         “I'm going to sleep with Sammy tonight, okay? I just... yeah.”
  585.         Alex sighed, sitting up and forcing a smile to help calm the two down.
  586.         “Sounds good to me. Have a good sleep girls.”
  587.         Cassie kissed Sammy's head and picked her up, carrying her back to the mouse's room next door. She set her into the bed first and closed the door, heading back to the bed to slip under the sheets. As soon as she was next to Sammy, the mouse pushed up against her and into her arms for comfort. Cassie pulled her in and stroked her head, humming a song to the mouse to calm her down. Eventually, the child was back to sleep and Cassie settled in to sleep as well.
  588.         It was only then with eyes wide that she realized she wasn't going to get any sex that night.
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