Story and characters are (c) Winter
Comments are most welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org
Set Me Free!
After breakfast, the next day, I left Florian to make his calls, after reassuring him that it was all right for him to use my phone. The laundry room was empty, with no bookings that morning, so I stuffed the machines, letting them do their work while I went grocery shopping. That took about an hour, and afterwards I went to move all the wet laundry into the tumbler-dryers, then carried my shopping bags up to the apartment. I found Florian still on the phone, his voice low and new tears running down his cheeks. He looked up as I got in, smiling sadly as he listened to the receiver. While I put the groceries away, he must have finished the call, because suddenly there was a shy cough behind me, almost startling me. When I turned around, I saw that now-familiar look as he seemed to be studying his own feet.
"The funeral will be on Friday," he almost whispered. "Nothing big, just a small ceremony, like he would've wanted. Just me and a couple of friends."
"Do you want me to come?"
"I'd rather not. I mean, you're my friend, aren't you? But you didn't know him." He ran a hand through his hair. "Thanks for offering, but..."
"I understand. So, I take it everything's set."
"Yes. Your friend Jeff called just as I was about to pick up the receiver. Nearly made me wet myself." We both laughed. "He asked me to say hello, and to tell you that the medical examination is done. Apparently, dad had some kind of congenital disease, that made his heart weaken to the point where it just failed. That part of it is out of the way."
"What about the lawyer?"
"He already knew. Apparently, dad knew about this disease, I completely forgot its name, and made some arrangements. They called him from the hospital the minute they knew who dad was. Then he spent the entire weekend trying to get in touch with me."
"Oh. Well, most cops have got unlisted home numbers, and the station doesn't hand them out just like that. That's why he couldn't find you."
"Okay." He sighed, gathering himself before continuing. "The will-reading is tomorrow morning, and I'm the only one who's called, so I guess that means I'll inherit everything. Dad didn't have any close relatives, except for me. Then I called the undertaker, and set everything up. Now I really should get down to the employment office, but..."
"Save it, Florian," I said, leading him into the living room and making him sit down on the couch. "Look at yourself, you're shivering. Just take it slow, okay? Don't wear yourself down."
"Okay. I'll try not to. Guess I wanted to do too much for one day. Do you mind if I take a little nap before lunch?"
"Not at all." I crouched down and took his shoes off. He giggled a protest as I laid him down on the couch, but relented quickly. "Just drowse away, wolfie. I'll go and get the laundry in a couple of minutes, then stop to pick up the mail. If you hear anything, it'll be me. By the way, where's the lawyer's office?"
"Back in Forest Glade. Don't worry, Scott, I'll take the bus."
"No way! I'll give you a lift."
"No buts, that's not debatable!"
"Thanks, Scott." He yawned. "You're too kind."
"Take your nap, now."
I decided to cook us a beef stew, so I began by peeling and hacking some onions while Florian rested. Before long, I had the stew cooking, and I could leave the stove to take care of itself while I took care of the laundry. The tumblers were done, so I hurriedly folded and stacked clothes, sheets, pillowcases and towels, balancing everything back to the apartment. I dumped it on the bed, then went to check the pot. A slight whimper from the living room made me pause, and I looked in, treated to a sight that burned its way into my memory forever, making my heart ache once more for the young wolf. He had clearly been thrashing about, restless in his sleep, and the pillow he had laid down on was stuck in a tight embrace; he looked like a little boy hugging his teddy bear. As I watched, he stuck his thumb into his mouth, curling up into a half-foetal position, and I had to stifle a hearty laugh. He looked so cute! Forgetting the stew for the moment, I fetched my camera, and took a couple of pictures. It really was an adorable sight. He let out a few soft whimpers, his feet moving slightly, and I couldn't resist kneeling next to him, stroking his hair and whispering in his ear.
"Don't you worry, Florian, everything's gonna be just fine."
Sighing, he relaxed, sinking back into deep sleep. I stayed with him for a couple of minutes, enjoying this feeling of closeness. Whatever doubts I still had were rapidly melting away. I was falling for him. With a last tousle of the soft grey-white hair, I returned to the kitchen to peel potatoes.
Half an hour later, I had set the table and made everything ready, and I went back into the living room to wake Florian up. He was sleeping more soundly now, and had taken the thumb out of his mouth. A pity, I thought, but I would still have the pictures I'd taken. I sat down on the edge of the couch and shook his shoulder gently. He jumped a little, then settled down again, his eyes slowly opening. Seeing me, he smiled, then yawned widely.
"Is it time to make lunch?"
"No, time to eat lunch. Come on, everything's set."
"Aww no, I wanted to cook for you!" he whined. "Promise me you'll let me cook supper."
"All right. You'll have the kitchen all to yourself. Promise. Now come and get it, before it turns cold."
"What are we having?"
"Use your nose, wolfie. Then you tell me."
"Hmm... potatoes, that's easy." He closed his eyes, sniffing loudly. "Some kind of sauce or stew. Onions and carrots, and beef. You've already set milk on the table."
"Fascinating." I tweaked his nose, making it twitch. "I never cease to wonder at canine noses. I can meet Jeff in the evening, and he'll tell me what I had for breakfast."
"Hehe, well, I can hardly believe a raccoon's night-sight." He yawned again. "Like you had a flashlight nobody else could see."
"All right, so we both admire each other." He blushed as I said that. "Let's go admire my cooking."
After lunch and a short dog-walk, we went downtown. The nap had left Florian invigorated, and while he went into the employment office, I went to the town library to return a couple of books, and borrow some new ones. On a whim, I walked over to the non-fiction section, not really knowing what to look for. I found myself browsing through a couple of books on psychology, until my eyes caught a title; ‘Coming Out'. The author, as I soon found out after leafing through the first pages, was an experienced psychiatric, who had specialised in dealing with issues on homosexuality. He had put together a collection of stories told by his patients, about how they all came to terms with their sexuality, and how they found their way into society during and after coming out. Some fared well, others did not. In fact, one of the stories was written by a young feline who had taken his life shortly afterwards, feeling rejected and cast aside by everybody who should have cared about him. The story brought tears to my eyes, and I kept thinking about Florian. Had he gone through any such hardships? It didn't seem that way to me, thinking about how fondly he spoke of his adoptive father, but the only way to be sure would be to ask. Would that be violating his privacy? Had I any right to ask him intimate questions? Better not, I decided. If he should need to talk, I would be there for him, but I wouldn't intrude on him. I kept on reading, and came across another story. This one was a grown-up, happily married with two kids, who had suddenly discovered his love for another man. Out of the blue, just like that, after thirty years of thinking he was straight. I read on, but soon it was time to meet Florian again, so I put the book back. I started walking towards the check-out counter, but after just a couple of paces, I changed my mind, and went back for the book. Once more, I started for the counter, but this time I decided to put the book back. I didn't need to hear about the hardships of others, or read the good advice of a psyche-doctor. The thought that I might actually be gay, or at least bisexual, didn't really bother me; on the contrary, I felt a little excited about it. What concerned me was Florian. Were there actually any good ways for me to get closer to him? Did I even have a right to, considering what he had just been through? Still unable to make up my mind, I checked out a couple of novels and went back outside. Almost immediately, I met with a happy wolf-grin and a waving hand. As I got closer, though, his look changed somewhat.
"There doesn't seem to be many opportunities unless you've got a degree," he said, his ears drooping. "More like, I don't know, sweeping factory floors, and such."
"Doesn't seem like too much fun." He shook his head, sadly, then started pawing at my bag, wanting to see what books I'd borrowed. "Hey, I've read this one. It was the old judge who did it."
"Well, thanks a lot, spoil-sport!" I knocked him on the head with the book, while he giggled happily, dodging another swing. "Now you've ruined my fun."
"Don't you have a sense of humour, Scott? Oww!" He rubbed the spot I'd hit. "You hurt me! Besides, it's really exciting, anyway. You won't believe it when everybody gets killed."
Laughing, he backed away from me, then turned to run as I advanced on him, menacingly. I chased him a little bit, then settled down to a leisurely walk-pace. As soon as he discovered that I wasn't giving chase, he came back to walk with me, and I could grab him by the tail.
"Oww, that hurts!"
"Don't whine, boy, or I'll spank you when we get home!"
For a brief second, he cringed at my stern voice, but the look he gave me was one of excitement, not of fear. Then he turned away, blushing, and we kept on walking in silence. Now, what was that all about? Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him adjust his trousers. Was it just my imagination, or was he both terrified and turned on? As I was watching him, still confused, he turned his head, caught my eyes and started blushing again. He smiled shyly, then turned away.
We got home without talking any more, and were greeted by a happy Ten, who bounced back and forth between us, pausing only to check out my bag. I put the books on the shelf in the living room, while Florian started rummaging through the kitchen.
"Is it all right if I make pizzas? I'm quite good at that."
"Go right ahead. Tell me if you need anything, and I'll pop down to the corner shop."
"Erh, no, I think we've got everything. This'll take a while."
"Fine." I sat down on the couch and opened the book we had been talking about. "We had a good lunch, so I'm not really hungry yet."
"Me neither. The playboy gets murdered first, by the way."
Groaning, I grabbed a pillow and tossed it at him, but he was already out of range. I heard his crystal clear giggles from the kitchen, and couldn't help but join in. Giggles turned into laughter as Ten came into the living room, carrying the pillow. I thanked her, and we shook paws. While the pizzas were in the oven, we sat watching TV. There wasn't really much on, but we found an old western movie that killed some time. Not that we saw much of it. This new tension was still there, and we kept catching each other stealing glances or just quietly watching one another. Florian seemed relieved when the timer finally beeped, and he vanished out into the kitchen. Soon, a heavenly smell spread in the apartment, and my mouth started watering. He had made us two small pizzas each, one with minced meat and ham, and the other with mushrooms and tomatoes. We feasted in front of the TV, and I made sure to tell him, time and time again, what a great cook he was. He smiled at this, his chest visibly swelling with pride, but he didn't blush like I had half expected. Instead, he seemed to be on his home turf when it came to cooking; he knew he was good, and thoroughly enjoyed hearing it. After eating, we loaded the dishwasher, then sat down to relax again, much less tense this time. We talked for a while, and he told me a little more about himself.
"I never had much toys when I was little. Dad and me, we did things instead. We used to go fishing, or watch a football game, things like that. When I was home alone, I took care of the house, cleaning, doing the laundry, cooking and so on. Then when he got home, we spent our time together. I remember being surprised at all the junk other kids had. It all seemed so unnecessary to me. I guess I like doing things, not playing I'm doing things."
"Sounds pretty deep for a twenty-one year old," I joked, and he laughed softly.
"Oh, I was always a bit domestic. Dad didn't really raise me that way, I just turned out like that. I was seven when I tried to cook us supper for the first time."
"Well, lucky me he taught me how to use the fire extinguisher." We both laughed, and this time he blushed a bit. "Actually, I managed to clean everything up before he got home, but the house still smelled of crisp-burned broccoli. I got the tell-off of my life."
"Was he harsh on you?"
"No. He was so gentle. The kindest person ever. That's probably why..."
"Why... what?" I asked, but I could tell he didn't want to talk about it. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to pry."
"No, it's all right. It's just... I shouldn't be talking about his private life like this." Florian looked down, but I could see that his eyes were brimming with tears. "Dad used to have a boyfriend, but they broke up before he adopted me. That's all I want to say, really."
"Okay. It's all right, Florian, you don't have to say more."
"Thanks, Scott. I know you're probably curious, but it's nice of you to be so understanding." He reached over to lightly touch my hand. "You're a great friend."
We decided to call it an early night, since we had to get up early to get Florian to his father's lawyer, and after Ten's walk I fixed her supper and changed the bedsheets while he took a shower. I was starting to get used to seeing a naked wolf walking around in my apartment, so I managed to subdue my reaction as we met in the hall. Once I was inside the bathroom, however, I couldn't suppress a shiver. I had never reacted like that to any man, hell, not to any woman, either. I would have to watch it, or I would give myself away. In the shower, I couldn't help but conjure to my mind's eye the image I'd just seen. Florian had smiled at me, not seductively but friendly, warmly, and it had damn near melted my heart. As I rubbed shampoo into my fur, I found myself getting hard, just by thinking of him. I tried to imagine what his hands would feel like, as I took care of my immediate need. I grabbed my erect cock, stroking it rapidly while I let the other hand run across my chest, rubbing my nipples. It didn't take long before I felt my orgasm approaching, and I had to bite my lip to keep from crying out with pleasure as I came all over the cubicle wall. I used the shower handle to clear away the evidence, as well as rinsing out my fur, then I got out of the shower. Five minutes later, I walked into the bedroom to find the bedside light on. I could feel Florian's eyes on me as I dropped my towel into the laundry basket, and as I thought, I caught him looking as I turned around faster than he'd expected. I pretended not to notice, however, and so did he. As I slipped in beneath the quilt, I heard him sniff the air.
"Admiring my new shampoo?"
"Oh... erh..." He blushed deeply, looking away. "Yeah... it's very nice..."
"Oh shit," I exclaimed, as I realised what it was he'd smelled. Soap and water isn't enough to fool a wolf-nose. I decided to take the direct approach. "Well, I did need to let off some steam..."
"Well, that's okay," he muttered, blushing an even deeper crimson. "I didn't mean to pry, I just didn't know what it was, at first."
"Don't fret, Florian, we all do it, now and then."
"Yeah..." I couldn't believe it, but he kept on blushing ever more fiercely. "You see... I did it too... tonight..."
"Really?" He nodded, covering his face in his hands in a way I found irresistibly cute. "All the way?"
"Scott, please!" He giggled nervously. "Yeah, all the way... Guess I needed to let off some steam, too. Takes away the tension, doesn't it?"
"Yeah. Every man's favourite hobby." We both giggled at this. "Well, I guess we'll sleep well tonight, then."
"Heh. I guess. Scott, about tomorrow?"
"No sweat. I'll drive you over to Forest Glade."
"Yeah, and I'm ever so grateful, but..."
"Could we go to my house afterwards? I'd like to pick up a couple of things."
"Nothing big, just some stuff I left behind."
"No problem, Florian. I've got the whole day off."
"Thanks, Scott. You're the best."
"Really, it's no problem." It was my turn to blush.
"Yeah, but anyway, you are the best." He yawned widely. "Good night."
"Good night, my friend."
I turned off the light, and he was asleep within seconds. I lay awake for a couple of minutes, thinking, but I was tired after my climax, and before I could form any coherent thoughts I felt myself drowse away.