Photo by Pac
|No. 81 – Hawaii Kahunas|
|Species||Otter ( Mustelidae )|
|The River Tank|
November 12, 1991|
|Listed height||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)|
|Listed weight||262 lb (119 kg)|
|High school||Holt Furry High School (Holt, MI)|
|School||Mustelid University of Michigan|
|FBA draft||2013 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7th overall|
|Selected by the Hawaii Kahunas|
|Pro playing career||2013–present|
|Career highlights and awards|
|2020 Salary||$20 million|
|2021 Salary||$22 million|
|2022 Salary||$22 million|
|2023 Salary||$25 million|
|2024 Salary||$25 million|
|(IC) Agent||Terry Wattanaporn (male red squirrel)|
|(OOC) Usage||Ask me before any use|
Scoonie Enoch Barrett (Otter, born Trung Hee Enoch Barrett on November 12, 1991) is a professional basketball player for the Hawaii Kahunas of the Furry Basketball Association (FBA). Standing at a muscular 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m), he has started at the power forward and center positions during his stint as a Kahuna.
Born and raised in Holt, Michigan, Scoonie comes from a line of traditionally big and prolific Nebraskan otters. His father Stephen Barrett was a US Army Vietnam war veteran during the late stages of the conflict. While on mission, the burly, heavyset river otter fell in love with a young Vietnamese otter girl, Huong Ha, who followed him to the States as a refugee after the end of the war. They eventually married and settled down in Michigan, where over the following fourteen years they gave birth to eight children, of which Scoonie was the last-born.
Although being the youngest, Scoonie grew up as the tallest in his family, already towering at 6’7” before turning eighteen and reaching 6’10” during his first college year. Since childhood, he’d been used to play endless games of pickup basketball in his backyard with his older brothers (two of them, the twins Sean and Rudyard, are now professional players in Europe) but when he enrolled at the Mustelid University of Michigan, everyone expected him to make the football team as a quarterback, due to his very muscular, stout frame and amazing lower-body strength. Indeed, he applied for the college’s football program, but almost immediately switched to basketball.
During his first two years as a varsity player Scoonie perfected his rebounding skills and polished up his shooting from within, earning a spot into the soon-to-be all-mustelid starting lineup. His offensive play, as well as his imposing defense in the post against much bigger players, soon made him an invaluable asset to the cause of his team. He finally caused a sensation in his junior year when he led the Wolverines’ team to the FCAA Final Four, being a still relatively unknown player before the Big Dance.
Kind of a free spirit, almost his whole body is covered in tribal tattoos, which he got as a distinctive mark. Despite his fierce, fearless look and imposing presence, which may make his appearance more than a little intimidating, Scoonie is a very laid back, easy-going guy outside the court. In his spare time, other than basketball, he enjoys swimming, playing chess and practicing indoor climbing. As his brothers, he’s proficient in both English and Vietnamese; his name comes from an Anglicization of his Vietnamese given name, Trung Hee (pronounced CHUNG-hee).
| The Right Thing To Do|
Written by Qovapryi
| December 2007/January 2008
On the basketball court, there are three different types of team leaders. The tactical leaders, who make sure that all the players know the game plan and help to create a cohesive team unit; the emotional leaders, who are able to pump up their fellow teammates when their morale and energy level is down; the physical leaders, who are usually the players with the best overall skills and the ones the ball goes to when the game is on the line.
Scoonie Barrett definitely belonged to the third category.
Almost every high school has one guy that excels in every sport he puts his effort into, and in Holt Furry High's case, that one was Scoonie. The day the young otter had checked in for his first training session, the coaches could barely believe that he was due to turn fifteen in two months – usually it was them who would look down on freshmen, not the other way around! But once it was proved that his age certificate did indeed tell the truth, after the first practice they realized that the guy was not just a freak of nature, but also that he had the potential to ace probably every sport he wanted to play. And the boy surely gave himself plenty of options.
Just one year after enrolling, Scoonie had already become team captain on both the football and basketball varsity teams, and also ran the sprints, the long jump and the fast relay on Track & Field. Unfortunately the swimming and basketball seasons coincided, otherwise the boy's natural talent would have probably been expressed in the pool all the while. It certainly did help that Scoonie was one of the most physically gifted athletes who had ever worn an Holt Furry High jersey – standing at 6’5” and weighing around 200 pounds just a month after his sixteenth birthday, he was a nightmare to go up against on every field. A lot of high schoolers could match his significant height, but very few could combine it with the body of an average college athlete.
Serving an user base of little more than 20 000 inhabitants, Holt Furry High was not the biggest of high schools in southern Michigan, and as a result, the orange-and-blue Holt Blizzards had never been really successful in team sports, more often than not getting crushed by the likes of East Lansing, Mason and Williamston. With Scoonie as the Blizzards' pack-leader, however, the football team had just won the conference season (losing narrowly in the first round of State playoffs) and now the basketball team was on his way to mirror the same achievements, jockeying with the three-time reigning champions of East Lansing for the top spot in the conference standings.
Scoonie suddenly found himself thrust in the spotlight. As he strolled down the hallways, the same exact people who weren't actually aware of the team's record just twelve months before would now stare at him like he was Lance Cheval or something. He didn't mind the attention, but was very aware that a lot of people expected him to behave as the typical jock, and that was a scene he didn't want to have anything to do with. Sporting shoulder-length hair and a couple of hooped rings in each ear, as well as wearing colourful tees and sweatshirts instead of the typical letterman jacket, was just a way to distance himself to the “popular” guys who prided themselves on being superior than anyone, bullying other people and getting the hottest girls.
Whether on court or outside, Scoonie got along better with the footballers than with the basketball players – on either team there were guys who were a bit jealous of his success, especially looking at the rate at which he'd risen to the top, but there seemed to be an higher Unsurprisingly, though, him being team captain and the most successful player in the two sports that had the most following meant that he was constantly asked to go out with the members of both teams.
Like that night, for example.
The school's starting linebacker, Corsten Liehl, had thrown a house party for his eighteenth birthday, and most of his football buddies and school classmates had been invited at his place. The majority of the guests were juniors, seniors and even college students, but there was no way the school's star player wouldn't be invited, even if he was just sixteen. Scoonie's towering height made it easy to mistake him for a senior – he had girls a couple years older (especially those who weren't familiar with the team's yearbook) hitting on him all the time, and he had even dated some of them.
Not this time, though. Immediately after being greeted by his host, a single glance inside the Liehl's spacious living room told the otter that the odds of hooking up were pretty slim, as girls were by far outnumbered by boys and most of them were simply escorting their boyfriends over. Lots of known faces from the football team peppered the crowd, and Scoonie found himself joining a little crowd of friends bullshitting about sports, hot girls, gym boasts, and the usual jock schtick.
A few cases of beer were around and soon the atmosphere started to get a bit rowdy. Birthday boy Corsten, already more than a little tipsy, insisted to dance “U Got It Bad” with his on-and-off girlfriend Miranda and the crowd got a good laugh at the 230-pound Kuvasz dog stomping the little feet of the cute, sweet poodle cheerleader. Running back Jabari Purviss broke an ancient ceramic vase. A couple girls got in a fight over the remains of said vase. Someone puked.
Eleven o'clock had just passed when Scoonie became distinctly aware of the fullness in his bladder, increasing slowly but surely at the rate with which the bottle of Beck's he held in his paws was depleting. Politely excusing from his friends, he headed to the direction in which he assumed the bathroom was - the house guest was nowhere to be seen, probably boning some chick (perhaps not even Miranda) in his bedroom upstairs. Walking nervously around the back of the building, the otter suddenly stopped, hearing a known voice coming from a door left ajar. He peeked through to see who was inside, unable to resist his musteline curiosity.
The room was a tiny, mostly empty garage, dimly lit by a lone 40W lightbulb. What caught his attention, however, was the two boys – a hyena and a white dog – sitting on the floor, their backs against the wall, weed joints in their paws and a look of apparent bliss on their muzzles. And not because it was an unusual scene at a high school party, but because the two guys happened to be none other than two starters on the basketball team – Sam Guerrero and Silas Liehl.
Guys like Sam were the main reason Scoonie had become more and more fed up with the basketball team during the past year, despite turning its relative uneventful past into a string of very good results. It was an open secret that him and the senior point guard weren't the best of friends, their hostility starting the past October when the otter had been chosen as team captain instead of the more experienced teammate. He would do his utmost during games but slack a bit through training sessions, taking particular cure in never pushing himself more than the strict necessary.
Silas, however, was not a different kettle of fish. Despite being Corsten's younger brother, the two dog siblings were different like night and day. As much as the colossal, immovable linebacker was quite the jovial and outspoken individual outside the football court, even though maybe not being the sharpest tool in the box, Silas was skinnier than average, very intelligent and unusually quiet when compared to brash, exuberant Corsten, which made him the perfect sidekick to the roguish hyena he was now smoking pot with. He would never go out of the way in proclaiming his resentment towards Scoonie in the same way his friend did, but his quietness made him so tough to read that it was difficult for the otter to determine if there was any at all.
Sam was the first to notice the intruder. It took a bit for his reddish, glossy eyes to distinguish the towering form of his captain in the shadowy room, but when he did, his features distended in a mocking grin. “Whatcha doin' here, Barrett?” he slurred.
Scoonie gave the hyena a stern look, his forearms crossed over his barrel-like chest. “Could ask you the same thing, Guerrero - don't recall your name being in the guest list at all. Whence did you sneak in?” he asked him.
“I'd tell you that's none of your damn business, mate, but since you care so much about the same teammates you put so much effort to humiliate every fuckin' game night, I'll tell you,” the hyena retorted. “Silas here,” and he pointed a finger towards the stoned dog, “called me and said his parents were out for the night 'cause his fat brother was throwing a party, so we could fuss down in this shed and getting high without fearing her mother sneaking up on us. End of th' story.”
“Whatever, man. Still, you know better than me that doing drugs is a violation of the team's Code of Conduct. And that as the team captain, it's my duty to report you both to Coach Morrow.” In all honesty, that was the only point of that nineteen-page document all players had signed that the otter remembered by heart, probably because of the number of times the coaches had brought that up.
The hyena would have none of it, however. “Like hell ya will, captain,” he replied, after a long, inspired whiff. “The moment ya rat us out to the coach, the school council will push the principal to withdraw th' whole team, especially if the local press gets the slightest hint of this story.”
Silas seemed to wake up for a moment from his trance. “And even if they just throw us outta the team to smooth the waters, chances are that the opposing teams will start calling you the Smoke Signals instead of the Blizzards,” the Kuvasz dog grunted. “Especially if a certain someone will tell the high offices that the whole team was into it – including their star player,” he husked, before sliding back into his drug-induced haze.
Scoonie startled at the sudden revelation, but tried to keep calm. “You wouldn't dare,” he hissed, the slightest tinge of anger evident in his voice.
The hyena smiled wryly. “Says who? Besides, I think that'd be a good payback after all we had to endure from you throughout the whole season.”
“What the fuck you talking about?” Scoonie seethed, putting his webbed paws forward. “What do you mean with “all we had to endure from you?” The team's doing better than ever and...”
“...and a certain otter is stealing the spotlight. Everyone's raving about how Barrett did this, Barrett did that, now that we have Barrett we're going to become state champions, but nobody seems to remember that there are other eleven players on the fucking team.” After blowing up another cloud of smoke, Sam leaned back against the concrete wall. “So well, as long as people don't give a shit 'bout us I guess we can just do what we want 'cause we fuckin' can.”
The otter wrinkled his nose at the thick odor that was slowly pervading the room, then stared back. “You really don't give a shit about the team, eh?”
“It's not the team I don't give a shit about, it's YOU taking all the praise for its success,” the hyena slowly scanned, his eyelids half-closed. “Now will y' please get the fuck off, ya gook.”
Scoonie flinched at the racial slur, but decided to let it slide, given the altered state of his teammate. The little bastards were totally right – denouncing them to the authorities would have led to an internal investigation and the team would have probably been withdrawn as a precaution, no matter its brilliant record. Reporting the two offenders would have been the right thing to do, but it could potentially ruin all the work he and his other teammates had put in order to succeed.
Still, even three hours later, lying well-awake on his back in the upper section of his bunk bed and listening to the soft breathing of his sister Lynn a couple feet above him, Scoonie couldn't help but wonder if there could be another way to get out from that nasty situation, one that didn't involve uncovering Sam and Silas' dirty secret to the school council.
“Time's up, guys!”
Coach Morrow's voice reverberated through the gym, the eleven players of the Holt Furry High Blizzards basketball team scattering through the court and dashing to the locker room after the end of their daily training, much to the dismay of the middle-aged Great Dane. Only one of them remained behind.
“What's up, Barrett? Something you wanna bring up?”
“Not really, Coach. We up against Webberville this Friday, right?” A grin ran across the young otter's determined features. Webberville was one of the smallest school in the Southern Michigan Athletic Conference, currently sitting at the league's bottom with only a couple wins. The Blizzards had blown them out earlier in the season on away turf, it looked like the easiest challenge for them to overcome.
“As I was about to say before the guys ran away, yes, game is starting at seven thirty and y'all must be here one hour before the tip-off” the dog responded in his typical, Southern drawl. “Just make sure to tell your teammates.”
Scoonie nodded, then picked up his water bottle and headed for the locker rooms, but abruptly stopped after a few steps. “Actually Coach, there was an issue I kinda wanted to bring up.”
A month had passed since the fatal night during which he'd snuck up on Sam and Silas. Talking with the other members of the team, the otter had slowly convinced himself that reporting the two offenders was just the right thing to do - apparently, the smoking habits of the duo were the worst kept secret since Watergate.
His closest friend on the team was a reserve guard called Thiruvak Wattanaporn, or “Terry” for short. He'd bonded with the red squirrel over their common South Asian heritage, slowly starting to like his work ethic and his never-give-up attitude, even though his lack of physical gifts kept him mostly relegated to the bench.
Specifically asked about whether he knew what was going on, he hadn't hesitated in telling Scoonie that he knew since the beginning of the season what Sam and Silas were plotting and that they had kept most of the team quiet under various threats. “Sam told us to keep our mouth shut or else,” Terry had said, to the disbelief of the otter. Most of the other players had confirmed said version – they looked so frustrated that Scoonie briefly wondered how the team could have kept up its record with such a serious issue hampering the morale. Opening up with the coach, thus ensuring that the two got at least suspended, looked more and more as a good option.
“Yeah?” Coach Morrow said absently, folding a bunch of papers and putting them in his bag.
The otter swallowed, trying to find the right words. His eyes fell on the now-empty stands, from which hung a big “GO BLIZZARDS!” sign, painted in the school's distinctive orange-and-blue. The past two weeks, when Holt had blown out Okemos and Houghton Lake Heights at home, all eight hundred seats had been sold out, even at the increased price of five dollars each – so much that the day before, the athletics supervisor had come to compliment the coach and the team on helping to collect a huge sum of money which would boost the school's finances.
If I tell him and they withdraw the team in a move to defend the school's reputation, all the people who came at our games will be downright pissed, Scoonie thought. There are only three games left before the end of the regular season – might as well try to pull through and drop the bomb once things are settled.
“Nevermind, coach, it doesn't matter. See you tomorrow!”
Coach Morrow shook his head just as his cell phone rang, the custom ringtone reverberating throughout the empty gym. He waved back at his player before answering the call, his expression immediately turning dead serious as he.
Thirty minutes later, as Scoonie emerged from the locker room freshly showered and ready to head home, the older dog was still talking to his invisible interlocutor, a visibly nervous frown on his muzzle. As soon as he saw the otter, he cut off the communication and raced towards him. “The athletic groups coordinator wants you to report in his office. Tomorrow at 5 PM.” he said, in such a severe tone of voice that Scoonie immediately understood something serious was going on.
Someone told him about Sam and Silas, was the otter's first thought. He knows.
The light outside the door of Mr Januszkiewicz's office flickered green just as the waiting room's clock stroke five.
“Please come in and take a seat, Mr Barrett.”
The athletic activities' coordinator was a snow leopard in his early fifties, still very fit despite the faintest tinge of grey in his yellowish fur. A large, wooden desk took up the biggest part of his small office, dozens of objects crammed on it without any apparent logic behind. A plastic stand holding a Michigan and American desk flag was rubbing against a photo frame containing a picture of the feline on the summit of Mount Arvon, a young cub (presumably his son) on his shoulders; said frame was brushing an antique letter opener with carved handle, whose case leaned in turn on a motorbike model, a mug filled to the brink with pens and pencils, and a metal plate with “Alexander Januszkiewicz, Athletics Supervisor” printed on it.
What caught Scoonie's attention, however, was the stack of sheets piled behind the computer, and precisely the one on top of the stack, carrying the names of the players who undoubtedly had been found out as being in the know of the violation. Slightly leaning on the armchair, he tried to decipher Mr Januszkiewicz's calligraphy: Wattanaporn, Williams, Bender, Brew, Hines, Liebenkohl, McCarroll and...
“Trung Hee Barrett,” the snow leopard addressed him, the otter wincing at the mispronounciation of his Vietnamese given name.
“I'll keep things brief. Yesterday, just after practice, one of the janitors found Mr Samuel Guerrero and Mr Silas Liehl smoking marijuana . Questioned about it, they admitted using said substance for the past three months, and allegedly mentioned most of their teammates, including yourself, being well aware of this behavior. What's your stance on all this?”
Scoonie's first instict was to deny any involvement. Then he remembered that having discussed that issue with the whole team, for what he knew everybody on Mr Januszkiewicz's list could have already admitted being aware of Sam and Silas using drugs and mentioned talking about it with the team captain. He quickly figured that the best thing to do would be to tell the whole truth right away.
“Mr Guerrero and Mr Liehl are right, sir. I caught them smoking pot like a month ago and never reported it.”
Mr Januszkiewicz gave the otter a stern look. “As the team captain, you knew that such a behavior results in a violation of the team's Code of Conduct, and that it was your duty to report it to the staff as soon as you got wind of it,” he said, in such a deliberate tone that the statement couldn't be mistaken for a question.
Scoonie's cheeks blushed lightly, but he did his best to look sincere and confident of his actions. “I absolutely knew, sir, but decided not to tell the coaches in order to keep up the team's morale. After our recent winning streak, pulling out this story would have had a tremendously negative impact on the guys.”
The supervisor's lips stretched in a sardonic smile. “Or, actually, expelling two starters from the team would have had a tremendously negative impact.” He put both paws on the desk, slightly leaning towards the otter. “Don't lie to me, Barrett. Just don't.”
“It's not that, sir! I just thought that if this story came out, it could ruin the work other team members had put into this season, as well as damage the team's reputation!”
“And what about the SCHOOL'S reputation? The police will be called to carry out an internal investigation, so the local press will come to know all the gory details before you can even spell the word “reputation”! What do you think will be the people's reaction when they learn from the newspapers that not only two members of the basketball team were charged with drug possession, but also that the team captain helped to fucking COVER IT?”
Mr Januszkiewicz leaned back on his armchair, then spoke again. “The school council has proposed to suspend Mr Samuel Andrew Guerrero and Mr Silas Jonathan Liehl from all sports activities for the remainder of this season; to withdraw the basketball team from the Southern Michigan Athletic Conference tournament; and to strip you, Mr Trung Hee Enoch Barrett, of both your football and basketball captaincies.”
Scoonie's tail gave an involuntary spasm, his eyes widening. “But sir! You can't...”
“DON'T INTERRUPT ME, BARRETT!” Mr Januszkiewicz roared. “As I was going to say, I strongly opposed this decision, feeling that it was too severe a punishment for you and the guys since you didn't directly commit the offense. After debating the matter for a long time, they agreed to keep the team in the league and leave you the privilege of being team captain during the current season.”
The otter nearly jumped on his seat. “Thank you, sir. I promise I won't ever let you down again.”
Mr Januszkiewicz allowed himself a faint smile. “You better not, Barrett. I took your side because I believe you have the potential to be not only an outstanding athlete, but also a great team captain. The moment you stop deciding for yourself what is wrong and what is right, and just focus on pursuing the team's benefit and putting its true success, on and off the court, ahead of your own needs, well, I know you'll be the best leader this team can possibly have."
“Being captain is not a given, but a honor. A good captain should set the example for the rest of the team, and I have faith that from now on you will lead the Blizzards and every team you'll play on as only the best professional would.”
It was a piece of advice that Scoonie Barrett would keep in his heart throughout his whole athletic career.
| Better Or Worse|
Written by Qovapryi
| May 8, 2014
Slowly but deliberately, Scoonie Barrett squatted low, abdomen and pelvis contracting under the 230-pound weight and then relaxing as his powerful hips provided the power to bring him out of the first of twenty repetitions.
Two. Three. Four. Five.
Down in the hole and back up, the muscular otter smoothly performed the well-known movement again and again, a single deep breath leaving his lungs between each lift.
Six. Seven. Eight.
Scoonie's muzzle contorted in a grimace, his legs really starting to feel the strain, chest heaving under the weight of the bar while he returned once more to the upright position.
As he approached the second half of his set, the bigfur's mind started blurring, blacking out every sensation not coming from his burning thighs. No more Avenged Sevenfold blaring from the speakers, no more exhortations to keep pushing from the Kahunas' lead trainer, no more Gary Ridge's exaggerated grunts as he bench pressed at the other side of the room. Just he, himself, and a barbell weighing almost as much as his body which he HAD to squat ten more times.
The rise from the hole seemed to be getting more fearsome with each passing repetition. Pauses became longer, breathing more and more forceful, The otter's body seemed to never get enough gulps of oxygen.
Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen.
The back of Scoonie's training “HAWAII BASKETBALL” cut off shirt was completely drenched, gallons of sweat cascading down his shoulders and back, but he couldn't care less. A sudden spasm in his left tricep caused him to lose concentration for a split second, his mind fighting the numbing pain to stay focused on the ultimate goal.
As the otter huffed and puffed like a runaway train, supporting the weight and mustering the courage to get down for the next rep, lactic acid-induced nausea kicked in big time, bringing the taste of the earlier protein shake to Scoonie's mouth.
His back and legs yelling and demanding him to let them out from the weight room's version of hell, Scoonie pulled himself up once more.
Time seemed to stood still, the otter barely able to tell the difference from standing with the bar on the shoulders, to standing, to squatting. The whole world seemed to revolve around that one single squat dividing success from failure. As Scoonie lowered into the hole for the twentieth time, the voices in his head were screaming, begging him to put his inflamed legs out of their misery and threatening to simply leave him at the bottom, panting, quivering and unable to get up.
But he didn't listen.
As soon as he heard the sweet sound of the bar finally hitting the rack Scoonie roared and collapsed, webbed paws on his burning thighs, his whole body shaking from his heart beating a mile a minute. He made a dash for his water bottle and guzzled most of its content, hardly noticing a trickle rolling down his chin and over his soaked shirt.
Grunting with each painful step, he dragged his body to the nearest bench and took a 25lb dumbbell to perform a repetition of twenty pullovers, which his trainer said would expand his ribcage after such a workout as well as help him recover from the exertion. The 20-rep breathing squat, aptly nicknamed “death set” or “widowmakers” for its physical and mental toughness, wasn't by any means a common exercise in the Kahunas' weight room, as it was conceived to quickly build muscle mass rather than preserve the explosive strength and speed that basketball players needed on the court.
Still, Scoonie was the first to know that playing in the FBA was first and foremost a challenge of adaptation.
It had begun at the end of January, when a string of injuries had forced the freshly-appointed head coach Richard Berk to slide the big lutrine in the starting rotation from power forward to center. Scoonie's numbers had dropped slightly after the change of position, but the badger really believed in his potential as a center, and hadn't stopped playing him in that position ever since, much to the dismay of team co-captain and hometown hero Quintessa Hartnett, who was outperforming the otter almost at every game.
It wasn't long before Scoonie discovered that his big physical advantage over other players, which had improved his stock in the past draft from second-round at best to eventual lottery pick, hadn't translated in the same way to the big leagues. While in college, the otter was used to dominate his way against physically weaker opponents, who would never get a snowball's chance in hell to make it to the professional level and didn't expect it to happen either. But in the FBA, where even the lowliest reserve player was as fit and conditioned as they came, Scoonie's athleticism didn't make the difference that the Kahunas' GM had hoped to see when he'd used his #7 pick on the lutrine bigfur.
The big otter had stormed in Honolulu and gotten through the training camp with the local press raving about his ripped but lean physique, almost total lack of body fat as well as remarkable mobility and lightness on his paws, giving him the advantage over most power forwards in order to attack the rim and finish most plays. But once slidden to the five, Scoonie's game had translated in a constant struggle to best his direct opponents in quickness and agility, hoping to tear loose from their cover and score before they could knock him away with their superior strength. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. Against mountains of muscle like 450-pounder Daniel Quvianuq or 380-pounder Todd Hu, most definitely not.
He'd talked to Wilmer Grehr, the red deer who'd been covering the GM position on the Hawaiian teams, only to be told the exact same words the otter knew he would say. That the team was lacking a star center, and Scoonie would be a good candidate to start learning the skills to play that role; that he should think of it as growth, without the need of feeling pressured in a role that wasn't his; that if he still wasn't happy with the role, he could just ask to be shifted back to power forward; and that the team was looking to fill the spot with a rookie bigfur they were going to draft with one of their numerous picks.
Even though he was just in his first year as a professional, Scoonie could clearly see the writing on the wall. Being constantly outperformed by experienced bigfurs Quintessa and Gerry Cross, sometimes even by reserve center Timur Tomilin and potentially by another promising rookie in the next season, could only mean a quick trip to the bottom of the rotation if he wasn't able to change and adapt.
The solution looked simple enough: to gain some weight and additional muscular mass without sacrificing too much his speed and explosiveness. Now, for a professional basketball player this looked like a minefield, given how much the sport relied on cardiovascular activity, but the Kahunas' lead trainer Thorne Isaac had taken that task to his heart. He'd compiled for Scoonie a training routine which included focused exercises to maintain his explosive strength and lightning reflexes, but at the same time was centered on heavy lifting such as the bench press, deadlifts and above all the grueling 20-rep barbell squat. Such an exercise required a dose of mental toughness and willpower seldom seen in athletes, but Isaac had great confidence in the otter's ability to complete his program.
At the beginning, Scoonie had seriously thought he would break under the harshness of the new workout. The first time he'd gotten under the squat bar, his lower body had given up after the three-quarters mark of the exercise, the big mustelid needing the help of his trainer to get the barbell back on the safety pins. Just as he headed over to spot someone else at the bench press, the towering, muscle-bound argali had given him a slightly disappointed look, one that alone would challenge the otter's guts to get again in the squat cage.
Still, Scoonie hadn't budged. Three times a week, in the days where the Kahunas wouldn't get to play, he'd come into the gym and face the fearsome squat. Webbed paws on his hips, he'd stand by the cage and just stare at it for a few minutes, concentrating on getting rid of negative thoughts and channeling his physical and mental strength. He'd look at the bar as if it was the only obstacle that divided him from keeping his starting spot and his whole life pretty much depended on it. Then, before his brain dared to question his resolution and instill fear in his thoughts, he'd get into position and start to dig deep.
Outside the gym, Scoonie's determination to show his coach that he meant business was equally adamant. He'd follow religiously the food regimen imposed by his workout routine, cutting on red meat, fried goods and junk food in general to favor white meat (either chicken or fish), complex carbohydrates such as beans, potatoes or whole-grain bread, and gallons of whole milk, so much that he thought he would put all dairies in Oahu out of business. Milk was easier to get in than solid food and also faster to digest, the ideal nourishment given the torrents of testosterone released by his body as a consequence of the grueling physical activity, which seemed to really boost his already voracious appetite. The need of sinking his fangs in some juicy steak or fried chicken, combined with the necessity of eating a lot and at the same time staying healthy to avoid putting on unnecessary fat, was what made the coach's ordeal a challenge that only a truly dedicated player would overcome.
Nevertheless, it wasn't long before the results of the new routine began to show off. His quads and calves started to manifest some serious definition, a thin tangle of veins standing out under his short-trimmed fur. His broad chest seemed to be getting even wider, deltoids and traps looking even more cut than they used to do. Obviously, he couldn't possibly keep up with such an intense workout regimen and the grueling toughness of three full matches every week, so his coach had deemed to field him for only twenty minutes or so per game. It meant that the otter had fewer options to showcase his skills, but at the same time the Kahunas' poor record prompted him and the whole time to start thinking about the future.
The brown-furred paw that smacked Scoonie's back didn't belong to his trainer, but to fellow rookie Alphonse Norwich IV, who'd come to sit on the bench alongside him. The big British rat looked every bit as worked up as the otter, his mohawk ungelled and falling down on either side of his shaven head. He reeked of sweat (though that was anything but a novelty in the Kahunas' facility) and his T-shirt and shorts were almost plastered to his burly body, ample wet patches showing over his armpits and back.
“Oi, 't was a cuntin' badass set, y' fucker!”
“Indeed it was, Alfie,” Scoonie answered, nudging the rat's chest in response to his playful remark. “Betcha you wouldn't have the balls to try it.”
The rat scowled, the deep frown on his features looking halfway between offended and challenging. “Izzat so? Next time we get leg day Im'a show ye how big are 'is rat's balls!”
Scoonie conceded, amused at his teammate's reaction. “Fine, man, I believe you.” He hoped that the rat hadn't taken his comment seriously. Most of the time, talking with Alfie was like walking on a minefield – you never knew what could make him explode. Still, after a year on the same team, the lutrine had a very good understanding of what buttons he could and couldn't push around him, and that was probably the reason why they had somewhat bound despite coming from the most different backgrounds.
“Y' better,” Alfie growled, averting his eyes from the otter's, clearly still a bit bothered by Scoonie's words.
The mustelid knew he needed to change the subject, and fast. “You seen FBA Countdown on ESPN last night? That fox reporter wouldn't stop talking about us needing to lose as much games as we can in order to ensure us a better chance at getting the first pick in the next draft.”
It was a legitimate concern for the otter that some of the Kahunas would already be thinking about next season. With their record being the last in the league by a few games, the Honolulu-based team looked set on landing on at least one of the first three picks, and a lot of promising centers had already gave a wink or two at GM Grehr from their Twitter handles. As much as he had nothing against those guys, he couldn't help but feel like he hadn't gone all this way only to lose his spot to the new Siegfried Romanoren.
Furthermore, the boldest sports analysts had lately gone out of their way to call Scoonie a “borderline bust”, pointing out that if the Kahunas wanted a strong center, they should have spent their pick on Walstein, Tate or Kidane instead of him. Slacking during his limited game time would only give more arguments to those jackals.
Luckily, the rat from Toxteth seemed to be on his same page. “Aw c'mon, mate. Y'see how th' team's behavin' these days. Here's just me, you, fuckin' Prince Charmin' over there...” he pointed to Gary Ridge, looking as tough as usual while doing bicep curls at their far right, “...an' 'at batty guy from Down Under.” His tattooed fingers came to point at Trevor Crawford, Alfie's main backup on the team. “Least they're actin' as they act'lly care 'bout bein' on th' team, not slackin' like th' other nonnies not havin' step'd in here since bloody March.”
Scoonie lifted his right brow, but let the rat go on with his tirade. “Say, of course th' big bad rat had to end on th' worst team in th' league. But I tell ye, those nonnies have been act'ly plottin' to shut me out since day one. 'Specially that Aussie stingo, all blat'rin' and jabberin' 'til he needs to step out t' the court. Or th' lil' foxie girl wid those big-ass ears smackin' my back every time we run a play, but fuck me sideways if that helps 'er to get th' ball in th' net. An' don't get me started on th' new guy. A traitor o' his blood if I eva saw one,” Alfie took a big breath before continuing his outburst. “Y'know, that skimpy 'brid runt comin' from th'Voodoos, whose bitch of a motha found nuthin' better to do that impregnatin' a rat 'stead of another wolf. No wonder th' boy grew up into that weak-kneed git. Lucky me, th' only otha rat I get on my team hasn't ever heard of th' Resistance.” He tapped at his chest, where his T-shirt concealed the tattoo he'd recently gotten to show his Biter Boy pride.
Scoonie shook his head, annoyed by the rat's dismissal of his teammate's skills. “Come on, Alfie, Xac's a good guy. He's still settling on the team, but I know that next season he'll be a force to be reckoned with. Have you seen him pulling that mad dunk the other day?”
The rat gave him a stern look. “I've seen th' kitty bitch he goes out wid, too. Bet he's too much of a pussy himself to even find th' right hole!” he laughed, trying to find any sign of amusement on the otter's features. Not noticing any, he pulled out an argument he was sure the otter would agree with. “Aw come on, mate, y'know what I mean, eh? 'S not like y' have had it easy in here! 'Specially since that mincy lil' mink faggot took y'spot...”
Scoonie winced, his features turning dead serious in a split second. He put on a big webbed paw, fingers splayed at his interlocutor. “Don't even dare to go there, Alfie. I'm telling you, DO NOT DARE.”
Alfie froze on his seat, startled by his teammate's reaction. “Why be so pissed, mate? Th' old lad can bar'ly keep our pace! You seen him nursin' his knees after last game, aint'cha? Uncle Gerry betta leave his spot t' the new boys in town 'fore those give out!” The rat snickered, a look of contempt on his muzzle. “How old 's Cross anyway, forty?”
“Thirty-two. And I'd be glad if you talk about him with all due respect,” the otter answered. “Gerry Cross is a legend. He's been pro ballin' since either me or you were in middle school. He alone almost won the Firestorm a championship, three years ago. He's got more experience than all the Kahunas combined, I feel blessed just to be able to play alongside him. And you should too.”
“Well excuse me if I ain't lickin' that mink's ass jus' 'cause he been 'round for half a cuntin' cent'ry.” Alfie rebutted. “He thinks he be superior to us rook's. Acts everyday like he's fuckin' king o' th' world. Matter o' fact, he neva spoke t' me once since I got here.”
“And you did?” Scoonie asked, his usually cheerful features reduced to an icy glare. “Look, Alfie. For the past six months I've been defending you around here and in front of the press by everyone who said you only think for yourself and don't have an ounce of respect for everybody else. Seeing how hard you worked to show you deserved to be in the league, how you controlled yourself and avoided causing any drama, I really thought that all the stories that came up on the tabloids last summer were merely an attempt to try to make some waves and get the people talkin'. But honestly, if that's what you think about your fellow team-mates, well, I wouldn't be surprised if the press was actually right.”
The otter got up from the bench and started walking away, then abruptly turned toward Alfie. “Basketball isn't an individual sport, mate. There's other four guys you have to play with, and if you don't learn to respect them and start doing it now, even putting in the best numbers in the world won't save your ass.”
Without waiting for the rat's reaction, he made way for the locker room.
Having been built just a year before, the Hawaii Kahunas' locker room bore the same impressive, state-of-the-art look the rest of the facility had. Over the smooth-surfaced floor of the circular room, a gigantic reproduction of the team's logo stood to remind the players at all times of where they were and what was expected of them. The wooden lockers looked similar to those most teams had, but the name placards above it were replaced by LED screens showing every player's photo, details and even the most basic game stats.
Scoonie approached his own locker at the far left of the half-circle, next to the bigger one which was reserved for team superstar Gerry Cross. He quickly undressed, throwing his shirt, gym shorts and jockstrap in the big laundry basket before opening the door and getting out his bathrobe, with the Kahunas' logo emblazoned on the dark fabric like all the other players'. Slinging it over his shoulder, the otter headed towards the shower area, eager to wash the gym stench from his body.
Being quite late in the evening, most of the players had already left the facility and headed home, so that Scoonie was the only player in the bathroom. As he turned the hot water on, a slight mist of steam starting to pervade the empty room, the lutrine's mind couldn't help but going back to Alfie's angry words.
The rat's spiteful comments were anything but new for the otter, nor this had been the first time that he'd called the Brit on it. Back when he was captain for the college team, he'd have severely lectured a teammate who threatened to undermine the team spirit for much less, but when speaking with Alfie, weighing every word was an utmost necessity to avoid ending on his black list. Still, the rat's attitude worried him deeply – he might have put aside his disdain for any non-rat while training with the Kahunas, but in the heat of a game, there was no telling of how his subconscious could act. Even a single failed shot instead of a pass to an open teammate could result in a loss, and losses were everything the Kahunas did not need at the moment.
At least he doesn't share the press' vision on us tanking to get Turner or St. Croix, he thought, slathering his head with a pawful of shampoo. From Alfie's words, it really looked like he thought that the team was sucking only because there weren't other fourteen rats on it. That the only reason he was putting up with them all was because he needed a team to show how good he was. Almost as if his constant outbursts were his way to show he was still very afraid of public judgement, which to him made no sense at all considering the numbers he'd been posting.
Gotta talk to him tomorrow and check if anything's wrong, Scoonie resolved. The beginning of a cramp in his left thigh painfully reminded the otter of the toll his body had just taken. His webbed paws splayed against the wall, he stretched his sinewy body, feeling the soothing warmth of the water relaxing his muscles and obliterating his concerns. Alfie's a good guy after all, plus it's not like he hasn't been pulling his weight out there. Unlike me.
The otter looked up to the ceiling, where the soft light gave the most tenuous glow to the white walls. That's definitely gonna change, he repeated to himself, his vision blurred by the water jet hitting his face and streaming down his body. I got a whole season in front of me before my rookie contract expires. There's plenty of time to show the team why can I have a long and successful career in the FBA.
Until I have an ounce of strength left in my body, I won't stop fighting for it, Scoonie reminded himself, like he'd done at the end of every day in the past six months. All the tears and sweat and pain will be infinitely worth it in the end, but only if I manage to pull through.
The lutrine turned off the shower knob, briefly shaking to get rid of the excess water in his pelt. He smacked his barrel-like chest, the wet slap resounding in the empty room.
It's time to bust my tail off and let my whole potential explode, was his last thought before making his way back to the locker room. Time to show the world that this otter's here to stay.
| Into The Wild|
Written by Qovapryi & Rainwhisker
© Qovapryi & Rainwhisker
| May 16, 2014
Cliff Matthiews' heart couldn't stop thumping.
The Hawaii Kahunas had flown to Alaska to play their last away game against their divisional rivals Alaska Arctics, and the Canadian lynx had thought long and hard about taking this opportunity to confess his true feelings to one particular otter.
It had begun the past winter, Cliff starting to get attracted to Scoonie Barrett, the Kahunas' rookie power forward, while hanging out with him and his friends after one of the Arctics' away games in beautiful Hawaii. Being too shy to ask his crush right away, he'd resolved to let some hints slip here and there during their conversations on Twitter. The big mustelid had been unresponsive at worst and elusive at best, but by the end of April the feline was reasonably sure that he'd got his signals and didn't seem to openly dislike it, which was already a lot more than how he initially expected it to go.
Only there was a little underlying problem: to Cliff's knowledge, Scoonie was totally straight. Or, to put it in the otter's words, “straight but open-minded”, whatever that was supposed to mean.
Still, the lynx figured there was no other way to know but directly asking him out. He'd planned to take the otter out after the game to one of the nicest seafood restaurants in Alaska, and had convinced his teammate Zack Tate to come and tag along with Alfie as to not make him too suspicious, especially after he had answered his invitation saying that he was anxious to meet him and “the guys”. The tall zorilla had been instructed with the delicate task of whisking the British rat away after dinner, leaving Cliff free to make his move on Scoonie.
Yet nine o'clock was fast approaching and the trio hadn't showed up yet, the lynx waiting in front of the Seaborn & Mack's Seafood Saloon and growing more and more impatient by the minute. He let out a sigh of relief when a taxi stopped screeching in front of the restaurant, the otter and the zorilla coming out from it and stretching their long limbs after being crammed in the small vehicle for the whole ride. While Scoonie paid the cab, Zack moved towards Cliff, a bit of a frown on the good side of his face.
“What's up, Zack? Where's Alphonse?” the lynx asked, his voice sounding a little concerned. He knew from his teammate's locker room tales that the absence of the rat had a nasty tendency to mean all sorts of bad news.
Zack scratched the back of his head, looking more confused than worried. “Arfie ain't comin', dude,” he said. “The big fella left the arena in a hurry - Scoons talked with him, he said he had some matter he needed to deal with. We waited for a while and then decided to come anyway, that's why we were late.”
In the meanwhile, Scoonie had reached them. He was wearing a black cardigan and a printed grey T-shirt underneath it, and to the lynx he looked as gorgeous as ever. Cliff briefly wondered if his long-studied plan would really work in the end.
The zorilla beckoned both guys to enter the restaurant. “Can we get in now, dudes? I'm STARVING!” he hooted. “Feel like I could eat an entire whale shark after that game!” That got a big, hearty laugh from the otter and the lynx, who were both used to the zorilla's boisterous antics. “Honestly, Zack, has there ever been a time when you weren't hungry?” Scoonie said, playfully nudging the other mustelid's chest before heading for the door.
Just inside the door, the party of three was welcomed by a friendly bobcat lady who escorted them to their table after checking their reservation. The dining room was warm and spacious, the carved wooden fixtures confering the local the distinct, typical Alaskan flair. The large windows offered a stunning view over the Cook Inlet and the Alaskan Range, almost glowing in the light of the late sunset.
After a short wait, the bobcat mâitre came personally to serve each player with a gigantic portion of Alaskan king crab legs (which Cliff had enthusiastically recommended) and to uncork a bottle of expensive Napa Valley red wine. The lady filled the glasses, before biding the three guys a good evening.
“To the end of the RADDEST regular season!” Zack cheered as soon as she left, before gulping the rich liquid in one go. He was soon mimicked by Scoonie, whilst Cliff slowly sipped from his glass, the lynx not really being a drinker except for social occasions. His alcoholic uncle gave him a lot of reasons to abstain from alcohol, with most of them being the wrong ones.
“So, Scoons, how's the shoulder?” the zorilla asked, proceeding to voraciously attack his crab. The otter was still recovering from the contusion he'd suffered ten days before in a winning game against the Minutemen, and had been on injured list since then.
Scoonie grinned.“Pretty damn good, actually! This morning the doctor said I could take off the bandages, and it looks like it's healing just fine.” He carefully rotated it in the air a couple times, to demonstrate his recovered flexibility. “I'm just sad I had to miss our last game against you guys!Besides, you wouldn't have gotten the divisional title so easily with me out there,” he said, a knowing smile on his face telling Zack and Cliff that he was joking.
“You wish, Scoons!” the zorilla laughed between mouthfuls. “We've been leading you 6-1 this season with you on the court, what makes you think that this time it would've been any different?”
Scoonie put his webbed paws forward, continuing to tease him. “Fine, Zack, I'll concede!” he added, cracking the shell of another leg to expose the white meat inside. “You're gonna dominate this playoffs, I can see it. No way the Thrust can put up with you if you keep playing on you did tonight.”
“Yeah, but what about Lex and Leo?” Cliff added, a tinge of worry ruffling his features. “I don't know , but it didn't look good when they got pulled from the court...”
The zorilla stopped him with a gesture of his paw. “Now you gotta be positive, Cliff! They might be out for a bit, but there's other thirteen players warming the court for them to recover and come back in with a vengeance!”
The friendly banter between the three friends went on as the evening fell down. Gossip was shared, stories were traded and wild programs for the off-season were made. Of course, the strong red wine added to the atmosphere – Scoonie and Zack could hold their liquor just fine, and more than gladly made up for the lynx's reluctance to get another glass after the first, washing down half a bottle each.
It took some covert winks from Cliff to remind Zack about what he was supposed to do next. He made a big scene out of checking his phone for messages and putting on a fakingly-worried look. “Dudes, I better go checkin' for ol' Fonzie before Miss B discovers he's alone in Anchorage and starts floodin' my phone! You two have fun!” He threw a couple bills on the table, put on his hoodie and vanished into the night.
A quick glance to Scoonie's face told Cliff that the otter had fallen for Zack's charade. “So, what are we gonna do next?” he asked the lynx, watching in disbelief at the empty seat that the big zorilla had been occupying until just a minute before. “Chet Blackwater told me about this downtown nightclub he was going to hit with a bunch of the others...” The big gator, who had been traded to Alaska from Hawaii a couple months before, had been the one who'd introduced Scoonie to the crazy world of FBA-level parties back when he'd gotten to Honolulu, and the otter was eager of hitting the dancefloor with him again. “...unless you have other programs for the night?”
“Actually, I was thinking about taking you to one of my favorite viewing spots up on the hills.” The otter looked really torn at the lynx's proposal and Cliff knew he had to tickle his adventurous side to get a chance of making his big move. “Come on, you can't get to Anchorage four times without getting a small taste of the Alaskan wilderness!” he pleaded.
Scoonie seemed to ponder the lynx's suggestion for a while. Then, abruptly, he put his paws on the table. “All right, let's go,” he said. “You know, I've been really wanting to check the surroundings for a while. Never had time to see anything but my hotel room the other times we came up here, especially with the cold and all.”
“I promise you it'll be worthwhile!” Cliff said, trying to stop his tail from twitching and hide the biggest grin on his face.
As soon as Cliff and Scoonie reached the spot suggested by the feline, the otter realized that his friend hadn't overrated its beauty at all. Surrounded by a thick spruce forest, the grass clearing offered an astounding view of the cityline reflecting in the Knik Arm behind, with the silhouette of Mount Susitna, the Sleeping Lady, lingering in the background. The contrast between the silence of the woods and the scenery underneath added to the savage, hidden beauty of such a secluded location.
The couple sat on the grass, reveling in the woods' pungent scents. His webbed paws spread behind his head, Scoonie addressed the lynx in a low voice, almost worried to disturb the nature's peace. “This place reminds me so much of home. Looks just like the forests around Lake Michigan, only more...primal.” The faint, distant howl of a timber wolf broke the quietness, as if to prove the otter's words. “Must be a thrill to live around here, especially in the warmer months,” he grinned, averting his gaze for a while and turning his head to the scenery.
Cliff took a deep breath, allowing the silence to sit for a short moment. His ears flicked once or twice, green eyes staring intensely at the view the two shared. He turned his head and spoke. "Say, Scoonie. I want to get something off my chest. I enjoy hanging out with you like this. And I realize that I..." He paused, turning his head away, ears flicking once again. He gazed back to the otter, meeting his eyes with a tender look. "I really like you. And I wonder if you... felt the same way." There was passiveness in his tone, neither aggressive or pleading. The lynx took a sharp breath, as if his heart stopped while he searched the otter for his response. A soft smile lined his muzzle.
Scoonie jumped at Cliff's shy words, mildly surprised by his sudden declaration. In the back of his head he had known for months that the lynx had a soft spot for him, appreciating his company and even being a little flattered and amused by the smaller fur's cute displays of attention, but he honestly hadn't expected him to take things further so soon. He took his time before speaking again, his voice very serious and reduced to the weakest whisper. "Cliff, I think you're a great guy. From the moment we started hanging out together I thought we clicked well and really enjoyed being in your company. But you know, I'm not really sure about my feelings."
The lynx chuckled softly, looking away for a faint moment. His ears splayed to the sides, somewhat flustered and embarrassed. "Right, right. I just had to say that. It was worth a shot." He fidgeted slightly, bringing one claw up to plink at his simple loop earring. "You're not sure?" He asked after, curiosity seeping into his voice. "What... Do you mean?" He paused, letting the question hang in the air. If he was hurt, he didn't show it. He still had his well humoured smile on, though it was evident he was still embarrassed.
The otter averted his eyes, a little uncomfortable with the sudden change in the discussion. Being the first time in his life he was having such kind of interaction with another man, he was going to great lengths to avoid saying the wrong thing and hurting his friend. "I like you a lot, but I'm not sure whether is it like a very close friend...or something more. It's not like I've ever had any means of comparison,” he said, trying to keep that smile from leaving Cliff's face.
Cliff purred out a short, amused laugh at the otter's remark. "Right. Right..." He had a grin on his muzzle, shifting on the seat to straighten himself. He flicked an ear. "To be honest, I'd probably say the same thing if I was with a girl right now." He chuckles again, curling his tail slightly. "Still though, I don't want to force you to choose. And I won't think any less of you for being unsure. I do have a suggestion to help you figure it out, though." He scratches behind his flattened ears, finally appearing somewhat uncertain. "...only if you really want to, though." He'd turn to look at Scoonie before he finally came forth, gazing up at the otter. "If... we kissed. It's one way to... figure it out." He snapped his maw shut quickly after, turning meek by the minute. "...only if you want to do it." He quickly added, ears lowering apologetically at the brash suggestion.
Scoonie seemed to ponder Cliff's suggestion for a little while, his features pretty much unreadable to the lynx. Then, suddenly, he grinned, his fangs briefly baring in the dim light. "You know what, Cliff?" he chuckled. "It's always been in my nature to experiment. And experimenting might be just the right way to deal with this." Without waiting for the lynx's reaction, he bent his head down and forcefully pressed his lips against Cliff's, his webbed paws wrapping around the back of the feline's head and turning it to the side so that their muzzles perfectly interlocked.
Cliff didn't expect the sudden action, only barely managing a smile before it turned into a surprised look as the otter leaned down to grab the lynx's head to kiss. The surprise faded quickly with a short gasp, purring as he closed his eyes and brought his hands to the otter's shoulder and waist, accepting Scoonie's approach. His breathing heaved, lost in the moment that swept him off his feet. His paws curled into the otter's clothes and fur, taking every second of their embrace.
Feeling Cliff's nimble fingers over his body, Scoonie threw aside all reservations and let his own webbed paws wander over the lynx's back, his actions undoubtedly made bolder by the wine he'd drank at dinner. He tried to enjoy the moment as it went and not hold back, his tongue brushing against Cliff's in an effort to take control.
Cliff could taste the wine in the otter's tongue as it rasped against his own papery one. He could feel Scoonie's webbed paws gripping more firmly and tightly as he took stronger hold over the smaller lynx. Sensing his intent, Cliff flattened his ears and let the mustelid lead their kiss. The lynx's purring slurred in his throat as his tongue lapped with the otter's movement; he could feel the tension in his neck ease as he let Scoonie take charge, allowing the otter’s thick lutrine tail to wrap around his lower body. His heartbeat, once pounding with uncertainty, now only became a rhythmic thump in this special passionate moment, his fur lowering.
All the doubts that Scoonie might have had about kissing a man melted when the otter sensed that Cliff, like most women he'd been with, was liking his approach. He went on assuring his dominance, repeatedly pressing and grinding his tongue against Cliff's but at the same time gently scratching the back of the feline's scalp and ruffling his smooth fur with his clawtips. The longer their kiss went on, the more the lynx was willing to let Scoonie have his way. His ears were fully pressed against his scalp, growling in beat with his webbed rub. He lost himself in the moment, enjoying the otter's taste as the mustelid's tongue brushed against his. It was only after a good minute that their lips parted, a low, content rumble of his throat being the only sound that Cliff let out as they separated. He chuckled afterwards, staring up at Scoonie's green eyes with his own. A grin was plastered on the feline’s wet muzzle. He opened his mouth to say something, but he stopped, instead searching for the answer in the other's gaze.
Scoonie smiled sheepishly, his mind still trying to process what his actions had just stated. He racked his mind to find something to say that the lynx would get as a sign that the kiss hadn't been bad and that he'd actually kind of enjoyed it in a wicked, forbidden sort of way, not really knowing what a man wanted to hear after such a passionate display of emotion. The kiss had taken way longer than he'd initially expected it to last, He resolved to just smile, his eyes locked with the feline's, paws gently holding.
The smile told Cliff all he needed to know. He pushed his head forward, burying it against Scoonie's chest with a soft, gentle growl. "You're a good kisser," he joked, still breathless. He chuckled afterwards, still holding the otter close.
Hearing the lynx's playful comment, Scoonie retorted with a joke of his own. “I know, right? I've had plenty of experience...no, wait, I haven't had any. At least not with another man.” Saying what had just happened out loud felt a little weird to the otter, but helped the experience to set in a pleasurable way.
"Thanks for that." Cliff let the night's silence take hold, both of them processing what had just transpired before he spoke again. "It's late. My place isn't terribly far. You're welcome to come by for tea and maybe... stay the night and head back to the hotel in the morning?" his voice dimmed while he asked, though he was sounding somewhat hopeful.
Scoonie pondered Cliff's offer, still a bit unsure of how he felt. He could see what Cliff was implying and didn't know how far he wanted to take the sudden turn of events, but at that point refusing the invite for a quick tea definitely sounded a bit rude. "I'm game for the tea", he told Cliff, still holding the smaller fur in his muscular arms. "As for your other offer, let's just see where things take us, huh?" he added, trying to hide the nervousness in his voice.
Cliff chuckled at that, ears twitching. "That's fine. I would offer a bed to stay all the same." He bit his right thumb, flustered. If his cheekfur wasn't thick, they'd be showing red. He stood up, and offered Scoonie his hand.
The otter reciprocated, getting to his feet alongside the lynx. As the gentle breeze ruffled his short-trimmed fur, he stood watching the night falling over Anchorage, the first stars starting to glimmer in the chilly Alaskan air. "You know one thing, Cliff?" he whispered, his gaze still set upon the horizon. "That was the best kiss I've had in a while." Still holding hands, they started walking back to the asphalt road.
Cliff's house - or more specifically, his uncle's - was humbling for a former and current FBA player to reside in. Originally a squirrel's residence, the door was small for tall furs to even pass through in without ducking their head. The lynx had to fiddle with the old door lock to the wooden door's entrance before he managed to get it open. Looking somewhat tense, Cliff led Scoonie in with a slight gesture, then went through the long process of re-locking the door, flicking the light switch of the narrow entryway on.
"Uncle? I'm home. I brought a friend." Cliff called out. There wasn't a sound, and no response. The house was empty, and Cliff's fur flattened at the fact. His uncle wasn't home yet, though his scent was fresh: he must have just left. For drinking, the feline figured. He pursed his lips as he led the otter through the narrow corridor into an open doorway on their left, away from the living room and into a small kitchen. "Sorry, it isn't much," he chuckled. "Though I'll try to make up for it with the tea. And snacks, if you're peckish. Indonesian ones?" he added, wondering if Vietnamese tea snacks were anything like the brown-sugary sweets Indonesians would serve their guests.
The otter followed suit, ducking his head to pass through the kitchen's doorpost. "I'm sure whatever you have will be fine," he said politely, taking a seat in the small room. "Never had Indonesian snacks before though. Not used to most South Asian delicacies, actually," he added as an afterthought, almost as if reading in the lynx's mind, "mother adapted pretty quickly to American cuisine after leaving Vietnam. Still makes pho, bánh cuốn and noodle soup from time to time, but that's it."
"You're missing out, then!" he grins, moving to the pantry once the otter seated himself. He took out an electric kettle and filled it up with water. Once he set it to boil, he stepped away to grab some jasmine loose leaves and poured them into a small teapot.
As he began to take several sweet-smelling cakes and gelatinous treats onto a plate, Cliff still drifted in his thoughts to what had happened earlier. A joyful smile was stuck on his face, feeling a kind of giddy warmth on his chest. He turned and set the multi-coloured sweets on the table in front of Scoonie. "This one's what we call 'Magic'." he pointed at a gelatinous square treat, layered in several colours. "And this is 'Ketan'.", he then motioned to a sticky rice-ball, sprinked in coconut shavings. Once he was finished explaining two more different kinds of snacks - a generous serving, in hindsight - he noticed the kettle was boiling. He dipped his head politely to the otter, turning to pour the steaming water into the pot. "Feel free to help yourself."
While Cliff attended the tea, Scoonie approached the snacks. It turned out that the big otter was as adventurous with food as with every other aspect of his life, trying about everything that the lynx offered to him. As he munched on the snacks, his mind went back to the kiss. What did Cliff expect from him now? How much did his earlier display of emotions mean to the lynx? What should he say, and should he speak first or wait for the feline to take the initiative? As he attacked another snack, hoping to prolong the wait before the inevitable discussion, a clink of ceramic mugs from the cooking area indicated that the tea was ready.
Cliff set down the two teacups and settled himself on a chair. He watched the otter try out the food with a gleeful look; at the rate he was eating those, he must have been enjoying it. That adventurous spirit was always what grabbed at Cliff everytime they met. That must be what tonight was, for him. He was glad he was able to give Scoonie the opportunity, even if the thought made the lynx sound a bit more selfish.
A light smile crept on his muzzle. "Normally, my uncle would be here by this hour," he remarked, hoping to spark some conversation. In truth, the lynx's experiences weren't as wide or varied as he made out. He wasn't really certain how to make a conversation now that he had brought the otter to his own house. Most of their basic conversation had been exhausted over dinner at this point, and with the kiss still fresh, it seemed very awkward to try and steer the topic away from it. He decided to carry on anyway. "Must be one of those nights," he shrugged, blowing into his tea before taking in the warm, fragrant drink. "Maybe it's for the better, eh? Heh. Tonight was more than I thought it'd be," he waited a bit longer; perhaps it would be best to slowly bring the topic back up, ease into it.
Scoonie shifted on his seat, leaning against the backrest. The awkward pause in the conversation became longer and longer until he decided to approach the prickly subject. "For me too! I mean, I didn't expect it to happen as well. I kinda did it on the spur of the moment." As soon as the words left his mouth, the otter realized how stupid and uncaring it sounded, almost as if he was telling Cliff that his action had been the result of the most meaningless whimsy. "I mean, I'm not regretting it, it's not that I was just trying to fulfill a desire or whatever...I wouldn't have done it with every man, you know." As he tried to make up for his early faux-pas, he couldn't help but feeling like he was digging himself an even bigger hole. He went silent, trying to read in the lynx's green eyes how Cliff honestly felt about his words .
Cliff's ears flickered uneasily at the start of the conversation, hearing Scoonie's response. The realization dawned on him then that perhaps this was just that for the otter - something new to try. The doubt was always there that Scoonie wouldn't be interested. He had said it earlier - he wasn't sure about his feelings. The lynx solemnly nodded, feeling his hopeful thinking slip away. His brow knitted deeply as he took another drink of tea.
The old chair creaked as he leaned forward to place his teacup back on the saucer. Somehow, that realization was harsher than he anticipated; he could literally feel the ache as reality might be making itself more apparent. His one ear tapered at Scoonie trying to correct himself; it brought a humoured purr from the feline, managing to make him chuckle. "Thanks, Scoonie." he replied, opting for honesty. "It meant a lot that you felt that way. I know it might just be something for you to try...." he trailed off, glancing to the side as he re-thought his words. "I mean. You're adventurous. I really...like that about you. And you cared enough and trusted me to share your first kiss with a guy. I don't - and I can't say how you should feel about all this - and me right now, but I'll give you the same respect and accept however you end up feeling." He paused, letting the statement hang. He wondered if he was too unfair, or too honest.
Seeing that Cliff wasn't angry with him, or at least wasn't showing it in his words and gestures, Scoonie calmed considerably. He could just hope that the lynx would take his next statement just as well. "The thing is, Cliff, that at this point in my life I'm not after a serious relationship. I'm not saying it because you're a man and I'm afraid of what people might think, nor it's because I just think about myself in my sexual cravings.” The otter took a long swig from his teacup, taking time before talking again. “Look, I'm still trying to settle in a new environment five thousand miles away from home, this season has taken its toll on me and the next will probably be even harder. I need to be at the utmost focus on the challenges that lie ahead on me and a romantic affair would only complicate things. Can you see that it's not the first time I'm having this conversation?" He paused, looking at the lynx’s face.
At the same time, Cliff saw every word coming, no matter how he hoped they weren't real. It didn't change it from filling the lynx with a sense of dejection. He nodded, managing a weak smile. "Eh. I could tell. And you know," he began, chuckling softly. "I had a feeling you'd say that. And you know, it's fine."
The otter saw the feline’s features betraying his sadness for hearing a different answer than the one he certainly would have wanted from the otter. "Aw Cliff, now come here." Sensing the dejection in the lynx's eyes, Scoonie beckoned him to come sitting on his lap. The lynx moved slowly, closer to the otter at his beckoning, and Scoonie hugged him softly from behind, taking in the smaller fur's scent.
The lynx felt the otter's big arms surrounding him, prompting him to growl gently. Taking Scoonie's right arm with his own, he turned his head up and gently brushed his head against the otter's neck, peeking up at the otter's green eyes. He laughed at the moment, appreciating the mustelid's form and his warmth. "It's fine," he said again, nuzzling his head against the otter's chest. "You're an adventurous guy. I didn't think you'd stop and settle, eh." he grinned, pulling back. "You're a huge softie, deep down. Caring. Maybe a bit chaotic, but hey. It makes life all the more interesting. Kind of like me."
He lowered his head after, the big grin on his face fading somewhat into a knowing smile. "Settling after joining the league does take time. What with all the travel. I don't blame you one bit for prioritizing what's ahead of you. It's responsible."
Hearing Cliff's words, Scoonie couldn't help but smile in return, although quelling his crush had filled him with sadness. "Si Kucing." He murmured the lynx's Indonesian nickname, taking a deep whiff of his peculiar, musky scent. "You're a wonderful guy, and I consider myself extremely lucky to be a close friend of yours. Yeah, I know, in this moment that is the last thing you would want to hear." The otter rubbed the back of Cliff's neck with his webbed paw, eliciting a contented purr from the feline. "Can't help but say how sorry I am for not being able to make it work. Still, remember what I told you this winter: life's too short to waste time on labels. And I might add, too short to live with regrets."
As he paused in his statement, Scoonie closed his eyes, turning his head to the ceiling, before speaking again. "Besides, you know, life changes in an instant. This morning I was thinking about the girls I'd hook up with at the parties I could have hit tonight, and here I am, nuzzling a guy I just had a very passionate kiss with just a couple hours ago." The otter punctuated his statement with a playful nudge to the lynx's earring, followed by another rub behind his ears. " There is no telling what the future will bring us, Cliff. I don’t know it, you don’t know it…nobody does. So…as much as giving priority to stability and inner balance is what we should always do, I don’t think I will ever stop looking forward to take another forage into the wild.”
| A Season Landmark|
Written by Qovapryi
| June 25, 2014
Scoonie Barrett locked his apartment's main door, before making his way to the floor elevator, almost bouncing with every step.
The otter's personal habitation, a fancy one-bedroom condo at the eighth floor of a modern high-rise building in downtown Honolulu, was the classic bachelor's den. A huge flat-screen TV and a reclining three-seat sofa showed off in the living room, along with a modern-looking wine bar and a bed big enough to fit in both the tall player and every possible girl he'd set his eyes upon.
Tonight, however, the mustelid would have none of that. Though, in Scoonie's mind, his program for the evening was almost as thrilling, so much that he could barely keep his tail from twitching excitedly in the empty elevator.
As soon as the doors opened, signaling that the stainless steel box had percurred the ninety feet that separated it from the building's lowest level, Scoonie dashed out of it and ran through the neon-lit corridor that led to the underground parking lot. Not many furs were around at that hour, and the concrete walls muffled every sound coming from the crowded streets above, permeating the rooms in an almost unnatural silence.
Even sixty feet away, the otter could make out the shape of his Scion FR-S, waiting for him in the dim garage. The silvery beast was one of his most prized possessions – he'd gotten to Honolulu wanting to get a sports car he wouldn't need to dry up his whole rookie contract in order to afford it, and the FR-S had been the perfect fit to his desires. It wasn't as powerful as his veteran teammates' Lambos and Ferraris, and its interiors certainly didn't look as much as expensive, but he found it to be incredibly fun to drive and nice-looking enough to not cut a poor figure in the Kahunas' parking lot.
The streets of Honolulu were crowded as usual, the otter's residence being just a few blocks away from the E Komo Mai Arena, not far from the renowned Ala Moana Beach, in one of the most central areas of the city. Crossing the bridge over the Kahanamoku Lagoon, the lutrine steered on the smaller Ala Wai Boulevard, following it up to the intersection with Namahana Street,
Seeing the “Hawaii State Capitol Parking” ensign on the other side of the road, Scoonie drove into the garage and carefully parked his ride in an empty stall. After sliding a dollar inside the pay box, he traced his steps back to the crossroad, heading towards the corner building.
Flanked by a row of palm trees stood Scoonie's destination, a small white building which clashed boldly with the skyscrapers on the other side of the street. On each side of its door, a giant tiki reminded the visitors about the owners' visible ties with Hawaiian culture. That could not be more fitting given the large banner over the doorpost, with tribal swirling patterns surrounding bold black letters that read Ka Uhi Honolulu Tattoo Parlor.
Grinning from ear to ear, the otter walked through the short pathway leading to the glass door before getting into the shop. “Evening guys!” he exclaimed, his voice even more cheerful than usual.
The beginning of Scoonie Barrett's addiction to tattoos traced back to less than four years. As strange as it might sound, before going out of high school younger Scoonie hadn't even really thought about getting a single one, nevermind getting as heavily worked as he would. His only experiences with body mod were the few piercings he'd got (a couple hooped rings at each ear, a stud on his nose and another on his navel), which he'd gotten rid of once he decided they were too much of a bother.
Then, after graduating from high school, his parents had sent him on a three-week ocean study trip to the Marquesas Islands alongside his best friend George Patterson. They'd spent a full week in Nuku Hiva with a community of local sea otters, most of whom (even boys younger than them) sported the peculiar tribal symbols the elders had bestowed upon them since before de Mendaña had reached the islands first in 1595.
The last night the two had spent on the island before boarding the ship that would take them back to Tahiti and then to the US, their English-speaking interpreters Terootae and Joe-Bernard had proposed both foreigners to get a small tattoo as a keepsake of their trip. George, the tennis-playing pine marten whose biggest dream was to step on the grass of Wimbledon (and would eventually get to just a couple years later, albeit only in the qualification tournament) had chickened out immediately, but Scoonie had thought that it was a great idea, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. And being the otter a sucker for unique experiences, it didn't take much to convince him to get under the needle.
The two teen Marquesans had shown him to Teva Hoanui, a skinny otter in his early fifties who was versed in the craft of tattooing and lived alone in the northern side of the island. As the Sun vanished in the Pacific Ocean, in the light of the torches planted in front of his hut, the tattooer had gone to work on Scoonie's ankle, drawing straight lines and geometric symbols on his bare flesh and filling them with black ink. His lutrine features contorted with the sudden sensation of pain, the otter had tried to control his breathing, pushing the air in and out his lungs in time with the rhythmic drumbeat that came from the deep of the jungle. It seemed to get more bearable as it progressed, the release of endorphins in his body giving an adrenaline rush that made him almost euphoric as the older otter worked on his skin.
Granted, after less than half an hour of work, the tattoo was there, a simple ankle band wide maybe three quarters of an inch. For the Marquesan standards that was anything but special, but in the otter's mind it was almost the result of a rite of passage, expressing his transition into adulthood and showing his courage and perseverance. Still, when the tattooer had told him that he knew he would get others, Scoonie had dismissed it, thinking it would remain a one-time thing, an experience that couldn't be repeated away from that place where that tradition was such as deeply rooted.
Back in the States, that line of thought had resisted for a couple months, during which Scoonie had focused on settling into college life, as well as adapting to the overwhelming freedom and the big responsibilities that came with it. Shifting from the close-knit environment of his small city in northern Michigan, to the much bigger reality of Mustelid Michigan's university campus, the otter's exhibitionist side gave him a constant itch to find ways to get noticed among the big crowd. He wanted at the same time to fit in and to feel different from the crowd, and with the amount of tattooed and pierced furs around the campus, getting some more body art started to look more and more appealing to the big lutrine.
It happened during his very first frat party. Scoonie was knocking a few beers with Quanterus Kynard, a fellow freshman who played on the football team as a fourth-string quarterback. The brown bear's personality was as bland and boring as someone would imagine from the most stereotypical dumb jock, but what had gotten the otter's attention was the black, detailed tribal that adorned his thick but undefined left bicep. “Where you got that, man?” he'd asked.
“Got what?” Quanterus had answered, managing to sound even hazier than usual after having downed more than a few pale lagers.
The otter had shaken his head at his drinking companion. “Your ink,” he'd insisted, one of his short claws pointing at the bear's arm.
“Oh, that. Got it at this parlor in downtown Detroit. Guy's called Larsen Oe, does the best tribals in Michigan. Not cheap, but well worth it.”
“I can tell, man,” Scoonie had replied, mesmerized by the artist's undoubted skill for the minute details. “Might as well check this guy sooner or later. What was his name again?”
Just one week later, the otter had gone to Detroit to visit the shop. Larsen Viavia Ōe-Catindig, or Larsen Oe as he was known to his clients, was a tall, robust honey badger, covered in tribal tattoos from neck to tail – black designs on white fur and white on black. Despite the tattooer's intimidating appearance, they had instantly bonded over their common Asian heritage (Larsen had grown in the Midwest, but was of Hawaiian, Japanese and Filipino descent), even before the older mustelid had recognized Scoonie as a member of the Mustelid Michigan basketball team, which he was a big fan of. After looking closely at the badger's portfolio, the otter had known instinctively that Larsen was the man he'd like to get inked by.
Eight months later, after a couple intense arguments with his parents and a lot of work, sweat and pain, the otter was the proud owner of the two complete arm sleeves and the tail sleeve that would later become his trademark. He'd asked Larsen to create a new design from scratch, something that looked simple but at the same time bad-ass and easy to recognize. The artist had come up with an original take on the usual tribal swirls, adapting it to fit the large surface offered by Scoonie's thick limbs. As Larsen would admit, it didn't happen very often to get to do such a big work on an otter's rudder, and it had been quite the challenge for the relatively inexperienced customer due to its very high sensitivity, but in the end Scoonie had overcame it just fine.
As the public noticed the changes over Scoonie's body and (mostly) brushed it off, the insiders started to notice a way bigger development in the otter's play. Having mostly started from the bench during his freshman season, him stepping up to a starter role the following year was warmly greeted by the Mustelid Michigan fans, especially when the team started pooling a good winning streak. But when team captain Adrian Pettigrew got injured (along with almost half of the starting line-up) and Scoonie replaced him, part of the local press had wasted no time in pitting themselves against that decision. Some tried to justify their position citing real or presumed issues with the otter's game, but others almost made it sound as they were opposing him just for his wild appearance.
Ironically, the parlor's chair got to be the perfect place for the otter to unwind and vent his frustrations. He'd hit Larsen's shop just to sit back and chat while watching all kinds of furs getting inked, but obviously it didn't take long for him to get the itch to get under the needle again. Each of the designs he got in his second and third college season bore a much deeper meaning to him. A five-pointed star on his upper back with the letters “T” and “H” (standing for Trung Hee – his Vietnamese given name) on either side of it, representing his South Asian heritage; two twin eels intersecting and creeping up his right leg, the words “MICHIGAN” and “WE MUST LEAD” (his college team motto) etched alongside the fish's shapes reminding him of his experience as Mustelid U of M captain, and a small whale on his right ribs standing for patience and understanding.
The press had calmed down in time for the FCAA Tournament, and Scoonie had been a crucial player in Mustelid Michigan's quest to their first ever Final Four appearance. It was on the night of their Elite Eight match, when the otter had scored a whopping 38 points and led his team to a surprise win, that he'd decided to forego his last college season and declare to the 2013 Draft. That same night, still high on victory after the protracted celebrations, he'd phoned Larsen and booked the first available sitting after the tournament finals.
That eventually became the first of many sessions throughout the summer, as the badger gladly agreed to the otter's ambitious plan of getting a full back piece before the draft. Deep in his heart, Scoonie had always known he would get it done sooner or later, but for some reason this really looked like the right moment to do it. As he got through hour after hour of work, while Larsen Oe injected layer upon layer of ink into his muscular back and the pain almost threatened to get him to call it a day, he visualized Sterne Davids calling his name on draft night, and the crowd cheering for him as he got to the stage.
Weeks passed by, then months. Scoonie got through finals, combine measurements, team workouts, even the Bikers' summer league at the end of September, with the unfinished ink on his shoulders to remind him of the stretch of road he had yet to go through. As the end of summer rolled around, the otter started to worry he wouldn't see the end of the road in time for the draft, given how little time he could find to visit Larsen's shop - as well as the rate with which his “tattoo fund” had quickly emptied. Since he'd been knowing Scoonie for years, the badger had proposed him to cover the few remaining sessions personally, while waiting for him to collect his first paycheck. The otter hadn't been exactly enthusiastic about his tattooer's idea, but he figured that it was the only way he could get the work completed before the draft.
It was only in the late hours of October 7, just four days before Scoonie's scheduled departure for Vegas, that Larsen had been able to make the last touches to the lutrine's ink.
It looked just as Scoonie had conceived it: a huge sea-themed piece with two big fish - one fairer, the other darker - swimming in a circle in the middle of the otter's back, surrounded by rippling waves of black and blue and other smaller fish filling the blank spots and defining the tattoo's margins. In otter culture, fish tattoos were highly regarded and had an almost spiritual meaning, standing for personal strength and perseverance through adversities, but Scoonie saw his back piece as another metaphor of his journey towards adulthood and independence, as well as a testament to his inner strength and willpower. Now that he'd gotten through this, he kept repeating to himself in the hours preceding the draft, there was nothing he couldn't dream to achieve. Even getting picked by a professional basketball team.
The Ka Uhi Honolulu Tattoo Parlor looked a lot bigger from the inside than someone would expect from the outside – still, it was a small 800-square room space with enough room for three artists and a big showroom area. The ambience was different from a lot of parlors Scoonie had frequented – no dark walls, smell of armpits or heavy metal compilations blaring from the loudspeakers. Everything looked very cozy and very Hawaiian, right to the omnipresent hand-carved tikis and the painted illustrations showing off on the bright-coloured walls.
The heavyset stoat at the counter beckoned the otter inside, all the while checking something on the shop's reservation book. Tevin Lombardo, or “Vinnie” as he was known by his customers, was the least experienced tattooer between the three that worked at Ka Uhi, and would actually substitute the young mouse girl who worked there as a secretary and apprentice piercer on her days off. By his own admission, she did a far better job at dealing with customers – he wasn't really on the talkative side - but then again, when there weren't a lot of people around, he was only required to book appointments and log start and stop time of tattoos being applied by the artists.
“Evening, Mr. Barrett,” Vinnie said just as the phone rang, forcing him to answer and draw his attention from the customer. Lila Darliss, the gorgeous Shorthair lady who was operating at the nearest station, raised her head from the ribs of the tough-looking stallion she was working on and stood up to greet the otter. “It's a pleasure to have you here again, Scoonie. AJ will be here in a moment,” she said, before shaking her hair bangs away from her face and going back to work on the horse. Contrarily to the stoat, who was trying his best to look sharp as he donned a khaki t-shirt and some expensive-looking, dark denim jeans, the female tattooist was wearing just a black tank top, the outlines of the hoops piercing both her breasts clearly noticeable underneath it.
Scoonie sat on the big futon coach, looking absentmindedly at a book of line drawings. After a while, Vinnie approached him,
“So, how are the things going within the team?” Like most people in Honolulu, the stoat was a fan of the Kahunas, excited to see his hometown state on the basketball map even after their abysmal first season.
“Well, Vinnie, not much is going on at the moment. Just us few that didn't head home after the season ended, working out and such,” Scoonie said, turning a page. “You know about the big draft camp we're hosting next week, though. Lots of fellow players and draftees are crashing here, might as well try to send some of them your way!”
“That'd be awesome, Scoonie.” Akamai Joseph Finau, the otter's personal tattoo artist, emerged from behind a curtain.
It had been Larsen Oe who had recommended AJ's work to Scoonie, the same night he'd known that the otter was heading to Hawaii. Well into his forties, the Hawaiian-born turtle was one of the most versed artists in the skill of traditional and tribal inking style, and this was pretty evident when looking at the stunning collection of artwork that covered his smooth skinned body, down to the Polynesian head piece adorning his shaved scalp.
After greetings were exchanged, AJ escorted Scoonie to the back of the shop. “I reckon you've got a clear idea of what you want to get,” he said, while preparing the work station. The otter had originally booked an appointment two weeks earlier, but he'd been forced to cancel it to go cheering for the Alaska Arctics in San Jose, as his friends had gone through the first playoff round without two of their strongest players.
“Well, pretty much,” the mustelid told his tattoo artist. “Was thinking a hibiscus flower on my right chest,” he added, tapping it with his fist for good measure. “How does it sound?”
“Whoa, Hawaii pride. You're planning to stay here for a while?” the turtle said with a smirk.
Scoonie grinned back, as one who'd answered that objection a lot of times already. “Just a keepsake of a wonderful rookie season.”
“As you wish, Scoonie. Let me just draw a quick sketch first – you can take off your shirt and hop in the chair until I'm done.”
The otter nodded, then peeled his black fitting tee off his broad shoulders, lying down on the reclinable seat. As he maked himself more comfortable, AJ caught a glimpse of the lutrine's muscular back. “Quite the nice back piece you got there, by the way. Was that Larsen's work?” he asked.
“Yeah, we did it over the last summer. Didn't get any other ink after October – beside the retouch on my ankle, obviously.” In all truth, the prolonged work on his back had kinda sapped for a while Scoonie's energy and will to get worked on further. Besides his first visit to the Ka Uhi Parlor, where he'd had AJ touching up his fading ankle band, he'd just hung up around the shop every now and then, accompanying there people he knew.
“Alright, I'm ready to start with the linework. Fair warning, the chest's going to hurt, even though with the amount of work you've had that shouldn't be much of an issue. You're ok with the design?” the turtle asked, while pouring the black ink into the caps.
The otter took a deep breath and flashed him a smiling nod, halfway between excited and determined. “You betcha. Let's get it on, AJ.” He could feel the anticipation building up in the pit of his stomach. It was his favorite moment, right before the artist went to work, the familiar buzz of the gun giving him the most delicious adrenaline rush. There was no turning back now.
“So, Scoonie, do you mind telling me why did you choose this particular design?” the turtle asked, just as the needle pierced the otter's skin. “We do a lot of flowers and hibiscuses, but it's not that common on guys.”
Scoonie's features stretched out in a knowing smile. “Actually, the guys who I discussed it with told me the same thing. You know, that a flower would always look girly, no matter its design.” He winced as the gun hit a nerve, then relaxed again, his chest heaving slightly in time with his breathing. “But I wanted to get something that screamed Hawaii, to honor the team that gave me such a big chance. Whatever team I'll end on after the Kahunas, nobody's taking that away from me.”
The artist nodded, wiping a bit of extra ink from the mustelid's skin. “True enough. Yet again, Scoonie, you're one of a kind. From what I read, I can totally picture a lot of those guys being money hogs more than franchise players.”
“Everyone wants what's better for himself,” the otter grunted again, as the needle briefly grazed over his collarbone. “And really, there's nothing wrong with that as soon as I'm concerned. We try to cut the best possible deals for ourselves, our family and friends. But...” AJ's gun waded through yet another painful spot, making the big lutrine flinch for a second. “...but seriously, coming out from the deep of the draft pool and getting such a big contract to play professional basketball in a paradise location, getting to start through almost my whole rookie season...I'd be lying if I didn't say I owe the Kahunas and their fans a whole lot.”
“Aren't you worried that if you get traded to another team your new fans might not take well the fact that you're permanently sporting one of the symbols of Hawaii?”
“They'll get over that, the same way the Thrust fans got over it not long after Montana homeboy Rufus stormed through. Besides,” he looked down for a moment at the unfinished piece, “as I said, this piece is gonna represent just another landmark in my life. Regardless of anything, the Kahunas showed they believe in me, and the memories I made this season will remain even if I move to the other side of the country.”
Scoonie closed his eyes, his senses dulled by the gun's gentle buzzing. His mind drifted back to the voice of the FBA commissioner beckoning him to the stage as the draft's seventh pick, while hundreds of flashes flurried and danced around him. The undescribable thrill given by playing in the Kahunas' first official match, together with the consciousness of being part of a milestone in the history of the franchise, although only for eight useless minutes. The game against the Howlers, the day after his 22nd birthday, where he'd come off the bench to lead the Hawaiian team to their second win and get the attention of the national press for the very first time. Making the Western Conference Rookie team at the All-Star Week in Austin, getting to bond with his teammates and helping them taking home the victory. Even cheering the Kahunas from the sidelines while injured, or getting up early every morning to buy the doughnuts for the team veterans.
Within a minute, the mustelid could barely feel the needles going in him. A relaxed, almost zen-like contentedness spread across his lutrine features as he reminisced, his mind giving in to the physical sensations and blocking out the discomfort as he undergone the kiss of the turtle's gun.
Just like that, after roughly an hour of work or so, the tattoo was finished.
As Scoonie got to the mirror, the otter could only marvel to the skill AJ had put in his work. The black flower stood out boldly against his fair chest fur, its lines perfect to the last detail. The skin was quite sore and itched slightly with each movement, but he knew it'd be well worth it once it fully healed.
“So what do you think?” the turtle said, as Scoonie stared in awe at the artwork covering the best part of his right pectoral. “Is that worthy of the next FBA superstar?” he asked, letting out a smirk.
“It totally is, AJ. Oh, man, wait until the guys see this!”
The tattooer chuckled at Scoonie's amazement. “From what I see, you're already used to get your fur trimmed regularly. Just keep doing that and they'll gonna see it in its full glory.” After applying a thin coat of ointment to the otter's skin, the turtle proceded to dress his chest with a clean bandage.”Alright, I bet you know the drill better than me. Keep the tattoo clean and moisturized for a few days, until the itching stops and the skin fully heals. And yeah, I know how hard it is to force an otter away from the water, but try to avoid the swimming pools and the sea for at least a week.”
“Wait a second, AJ! We need a photo for our celebrity wall!” Vinnie cried from the other room.
After pictures were snapped, and the fresh artwork on Scoonie's chest had been safely nestled within a soft gauze, the turtle shook hands with the otter one last time. “You know,” he said to Scoonie, “you could get a flower at the end of every season. Think how it would look when you retire.”
The lutrine let out a big laugh. “Just like a freakin' hibiscus garden! Not sure if I could handle that, honestly. Even to me, that sounds a bit extreme.”
“That is, if you get enough seasons under your belt,” Tevin chimed in from the counter.
“You're such a spoilsport, Vinnie. Though AJ here has a point, with this thing of getting a piece at the end of every season.”
“And as long as you stay in Honolulu,” the turtle said, “we hope you'll keep relying on our services when you eventually decide to get tattooed again.”
“Don't even question it!” Scoonie exclaimed, letting the stipulated money change paws along with a sizeable tip. “I never doubted for a moment Larsen was recommending me the right artist.”
“And we never doubted you'd come walking in again after your first visit.” AJ told the otter, as he made way for the shop's exit. “Farewell, Scoonie. Or rather, to your next landmark.”
| Confession, or A Weekend In Edmonton|
Written by Qovapryi
| August 2, 2014
Sophie Occhilupo woke up abruptly.
Mechanically, as she did every time she was excited in the middle of the night, the weasel tilted her sleek head to her left, squinting in the dark of the room as to see the fluorescent numbers of her alarm clock.
Her gaze was met by total blackness.
Where am I? The realization struck her immediately. So did the memories of the past two days, causing her cheeks to heat up slightly. Another question creeped into Sophie's mind, even more insistent than the previous one. Has he...gone?
The girl turned to her right, towards the other half of the kingsize bed she was lying in. Her eyes, slowly adjusting to the darkness, could barely make out the silhouette of a man sleeping beside her, just a couple feet away. Sophie could hardly hear the quiet, rhythmic breathing of her companion, but the heat radiating from his body was so strong that she wondered how on Earth she could have doubted his presence.
He hasn't left. He's still here.
Carefully, as not to make too much noise, she stepped down the bed and got to the room's window, drawing the drapery as to let the slightest beam of light in. The tenuous gaze of dawn filtered through the curtain over the bed, and came to rest on the otter's tall, brawny body, only partially covered by the white sheets. He was sleeping on his right side, facing the wall, thick tail tucked up against his legs. The weasel girl couldn't suppress a smile, still quite unable to believe she'd spent the past thirty-six hours being intimate with a professional basketball player.
With the same cautiousness Sophie walked across the room, suddenly aware of her nakedness. Her clothes were all over the place, and it took a while for her to retrieve her black panties, half hidden behind a stylish, dark lampshade. Once her modesty was covered, she leaned against the room's wall, imperceptibly shivering as the concrete made contact with the velvety fur of her naked back.
The sleek-furred woman stood there, raptly watching that hunk of an otter as he slept peacefully, his broad chest rising and lowering slightly with each breath. She was sure at least half of the American mustelid female population would give anything to be in her place – heck, she could already hear the questions of her female friends and colleagues when they got to know it – yet at the same time she was bound to depart in a few hours towards Chicago, and probably never see him anymore, like it surely had already happened to a thousand other girls before her.
Not that she'd expected anything else when she'd showed to the player's room. After kicking that jerk Mitchell out of her life for good, Sophie had resolved to start a new life without serious ties or commitments – just casual adventures with no need to feel anything other than what she wished to. After all, her job (she worked as an air hostess for United Furry Airlines) gave her plenty of opportunities to do that.
Still, there were times where her latest conquest felt a little too good to be left behind with a cheap goodbye, whether because of his looks, personality or sexual performance. This was the crowning example of such a contradiction: she'd got what she wanted from Scoonie Barrett himself – yet she couldn't help but somewhat feel like someone who'd got a first class ticket to Heaven but hadn't been able to get at the right gate in time.
First class ticket to Heaven, huh? That'd be actually pretty fitting...if only yours truly wasn't the one serving the travelers on that kind of flights.
A glance to the clock on the wall reminded her she had to get presentable before boarding the plane. Sighing, she made her way to the bathroom and turned the shower knob on, adjusting the temperature to her liking and waiting for the water to heat up before stepping in.
Enjoying the silky caress of water, Sophie scrubbed the stickiness of the previous night off her fur, thinking about the chain of events that had led her to such an improbable situation.
Sophie had noticed him right off the bat, even before starting to check each passenger's ticket boarding the morning flight from San Francisco to Edmonton. He was the first furry in line among the few first-class boarders – a strapping young otter buck, standing a full head taller than her, with broad shoulders and the built of a feral ox. Wearing wraparound shades and a tribal-printed, long-sleeved T-shirt over some expensive denim jeans, he looked more like a professional athlete than the occasional daddy's boy they sometimes got on these flights, making wise use of his father's credit card to get himself all the commodities which came along with the first-class upgrade.
Now, Sophie didn't really follow pro sports, but she enjoyed watching a good game from time to time, especially late in the evening after coming home from a long, tiresome flight. Football, baseball or basketball – didn't make much difference to her, as long as there were sweaty, chiseled bodies to feast her eyes on. Given his height and build, that hunk of an otter certainly looked like he could have been coming straight out of a basketball court...and the strange thing was that she was sure he'd already seen him somewhere.
Who was that guy?
The question had lingered through her mind as she'd performed her usual safety routine. Did any team in California or Edmonton field an otter bigfur? The only name that came to her mind was Paul Teronura, but Sophie was pretty sure he was playing somewhere in the East. Plus, if she remembered correctly, PT was about to turn 35 or so, and the mysterious traveler looked at least ten years younger.
Could he be a varsity player? After all, California was full of universities...though somehow, Sophie doubted even the most talented college baller would ever travel alone and in first class, if she was to believe the stories she'd read about their protests in demand of actual payment and tuition for their services. Nope, he'd have to be a professional – and Sophie had instantly made her mission to discover exactly who he was.
As soon as the plain was airborne, the weasel hostess took it as her cue to slip into first class for her first service. The aircraft, an average-sized Airbus A319, had a capacity of eight First seats divided into four rows of two on each side of the aisle. Three of them were actually occupied: both the two seats in the right back row, where two businesswomen in their late forties - a dalmatian and an antelope - were engaged in earnest conversation, as well as the window seat in the left front row, where she could barely make out the shape of Mr. Mysterious Baller's shaven head.
Sophie had picked up the first ordinations – the stern-looking canine getting a glass of sparkling water, her hoofed companion choosing an even more sober Diet Coke – before finally getting to the front row. When she'd stepped up beside him, the otter had just taken off his Nike sunglasses, his legs outstretched and making the most of the extra legroom. Seeing the hostess approaching, he had turned his head up...and in a split-second, as his deep green eyes had made contact with hers, she'd realized why he looked so familiar at first.
It was him. Not just “him” – HIM. Scoonie freakin' Barrett. The one player who, on his own, had made one particularly dreadful home blowout for the Hawaii Kahunas almost bearable to watch. Not that she didn't appreciate the other players – Gerry Cross and Gary Ridge were honest-to-God pillars of pure mustelid muscle, and that English rat (what was his name again...Alfred, Albert?) might have looked a little rough around the edges, but those scars he sported were more than enough to make her swoon. Still, Scoonie's on-court attitude was what had caught her eyes – she admired his leader-like personality and no-bullshit demeanor as he pushed around his bigger opponent in the low post, slapping the hardwood with his thick tail just like he was marking his territory.
“Good...good morning sir. Would you like something to drink?” Sophie had managed to crack a convincing smile, though her whole body was internally shaking. No matter how many celebrities she'd seen on a flight, the fear of making a bad impression on a high-paying customer was always there.
Scoonie had smiled back, pearly white fangs baring in a chuckle. “A cup of coffee will be fine, madam.” It was ten past nine in the morning, almost three hours from lunch.
“Anything else?” Sophie had asked, mildly surprised by his behaviour. For a big, intimidating guy, he looked surprisingly polite compared to most customers she'd had. His voice was deep but very warm, bearing no recognizable accent.
Scoonie smirked. “Uhm, well, some sugar would be good.”
The hostess stood dumbfounded for a second. “Sugar?”
“Yeah, for the coffee.”
Maybe it was her imagination, Sophie had thought while heading to the back room to fetch the drinks, but she felt like the otter had been hitting on her a little. It wouldn't certainly be the first time that had happened, anyway – some customers she'd dealt with had actually been far more lewd with their avances. Funny what Hollywood could make believe to some people, the whole Mile High Club thing and all that. In fact, getting intimate with a customer while on a plane could cost her the job, as well as a public reproach given the recipient's status, should the story be reported by the media.
Be professional, the hostess had reminded herself as she'd poured the coffee into the cup, trying to match Scoonie's gaze. Thankfully, the drink reached its receptacle without further impediment, although Sophie had somewhat been fearing that the otter's eyes could spill it on their own.
The flight had touched down without other incidents. The first class passengers had been the first to be whisked out of the plane, and as the tall otter's shadow had vanished into the connection tunnel, Sophie hadn't been able to suppress a mildly disappointed sigh. Still, at least she'd gotten a good story to tell her friends – one half of them wouldn't believe, and the other half wouldn't even get who the player in question was.
Six hours later, as the weasel had prepared herself to go dinner, she'd almost forgotten of her early encounter. The dining room was crowded with furs of all ages and species, as usual during full summer in Edmonton. Coming from the elevator, Sophie had to circumnavigate the large hall, coasting the reception counter and then the lounge bar – where she had frozen on the spot. Granted, the same otter she'd seen walking away that morning was now there sitting at the bar, his rudder wrapped around the barstool and a big grin on his face, as he'd already known he would see her again.
Then, while Sophie stood at the bistro's door not really knowing what to do, he'd winked at her, two times.
Freed by her company's no-hitting-on-customers policy, she could have reached out to him and started a conversation. But how could she do that? How is someone supposed to approach a celebrity without acting like the most obnoxious of fans?
Even if it hurt her soul to leave the otter hanging, Sophie had resolved to play the waiting game and go to dinner. She had smiled inwardly as the mâitre had beckoned her to the table that was closest to the door, as she knew Scoonie could see her from the bar lounge. But as she'd lifted her napkin, a small piece of cardboard had fallen out on the white tablecloth. A sentence, a room number and two all-too-familiar initials been hand-written on it.
Waiting for ya. Room 618. S.B.
Everything from there on had seemed to be dragging Sophie towards the inevitable conclusion. She'd turned her oPad on, gotten to Wikipedia and scooped up all the possible information about Scoonie: his origins (...cool, that's a fellow Northerner!), his age, his marital status. He was apparently five years younger than her, and – even if it sounded hard for her to believe – not in a stable relationship.
Sophie had never been dating an athlete, be it amateur or professional, but she would gladly have admitted being physically attracted to burly, muscular guys. Mitchell, the guy she'd been with for almost three years, was a gym freak, rough around the edges and aggressive (sometimes unduly) in and outside the bed sheets. Nevertheless, when he wanted, he could be the sweetest guy on the face of the Earth, and that's how he'd brought her within a few steps from the altar – that is, until he'd given her a slap during an intense argument, literally weeks before their marriage. She remembered with bittersweet joy the moment when she'd made a bonfire with her wedding invitations, and her promise to her closest friends Margaret and Bonnie not to run anymore after abusive men; the “bitter” side in it being that all the guys she'd fooled with after Mitchell had been good lovers, but nothing but absolute jerks afterwards.
Sophie had stood in front of her room's mirror, turning the cardboard between her paws. Six flights of stairs separed her from a towering, muscled otter Adonis she'd normally have no problems to pounce on. But the fact that he was rich, that he was famous, that he'd been looking purely for her in the multitude of gorgeous women running around Edmonton...that seemed a little too good to be true.
Still, a case could have been made that with the amount of self-deprecating she'd put in since quitting on Mitchell (which in turn, might have had something to do with her terrible dating streak ever since), chances would be that she'd never forgive herself for not showing up. So she'd put her best dress (in her suitcase) on, mustered up all her courage and covered the distance that separed her from Scoonie's room.
The otter had managed to surprise her yet again: he'd booked a suite with a kingsize bed, without even knowing that he'd have a guest for the night. To Sophie that sounded a bit cocky, but overall excusable - especially when she'd noticed a bottle of French red wine, a Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 1997, waiting for them on a shelf with two glasses. After having introduced himself properly, Scoonie had filled them both to the brim and taken a hefty drink, the weasel mimicking his actions and enjoying the liquid's rich, fruity taste on her tongue, then the otter's as he'd pulled her in for a greedy kiss.
Before she'd known it, they were both naked under the covers.
The next hours had been a full-on display of unbridled lust and wild passion as Scoonie and Sophie had joined each other over and over again, until the weasel girl had felt like she was melting in a puddle of sheer pleasure and fulfillment. She'd learned her that a man could be domineering in bed without calling her a bitch, but at the same time that gentle lovemaking could be satisfying as much as the rough, aggressive sex Mitchell had accustomed her to. She'd gotten lost in the deep green wells of Scoonie's eyes as he'd pulled her in the tightest embrace. She'd called the otter's name again and again as he'd pushed his wild desire into her.
On Friday, they'd woken up to a heavy rainfall. Scoonie was supposed to be competing at the Hicks Charity Tennis Tournament against a bunch of fellow ballers (that was the reason he was in Edmonton in the first place, as he'd told Sophie the day before) but the Edmonton Totems' twitter account had announced the first round would be postponed to Saturday afternoon. By mutual agreement, since neither one of them was required to leave the room until the following day, they'd decided to stay in bed – and just call it a day. They'd literally spent the whole day in that bed, talking, cuddling, eating (blessed room service!) and generally lazing around.
Then, after the first stars had settled in the clearing sky, they'd recreated the magic of the night before, entwining under the sheets as the pale Canadian moonlight filtered through the curtains. The last thought Sophie's mind had been able to formulate before surrendering her exhausted muscles to the sleep of the just, was that Scoonie's bed was the best place in the world.
Scoonie was still sleeping when Sophie made her way out of the bathroom, her hair still damp in places from the recent shower.
Slow and silent, the weasel lied down in the bed, her mind still going over the events of the weekend. A lone sliver of sunbeam made its way through the curtains and came to rest on Scoonie's back, inundating her with sweet longing.
Moving slowly as to not wake the sleeping otter, the weasel leant over and left a moist kiss in the centre of the five-pointed star that adorned Scoonie's upper back, standing for his Vietnamese heritage. She laid back for a while, listening to the otter's gentle purring, then kissed him again and let her paw wander over his large thigh, feeling every muscle ripple under her fingerclaws as she left a wet trail of kisses down his back.
Then as her lips grazed against his backside, she felt him shift slightly in his sleep. “Morning, babe...” Scoonie yawned, rolling on his back. “Come here..” he beckoned her closer and pulled her in for a kiss of his own, his mustelid tongue brushing ever so slightly against hers before lips parted. “How did you sleep?” he asked, letting Sophie rest her head against his bare chest.
“Oh, I had no doubt.” Scoonie chuckled. They both lied for a while, the otter gently ruffling the girl's soft neck fur as she listened to his strong heartbeat.
“I could stay like this forever...” she whispered, as the rhythmic thumping reverberated through her ears. After a few minutes, in contradiction with her last statement, she got up. “Look, I need to ask you one thing. Why did you go after me in the first place? I mean I'm extremely flattered, but come on...professional sportsmen are known for being able to get any girl they want. Especially those with band-aid sized skirts, bling and huge tits...oh, I hope I didn't offend you.”
The otter smiled knowingly. “Sophie...those are groupies. Cheap hookers. They go after me because I'm a basketball player, not because they like me. They'd do just about anything – recite a player's career averages by heart to show they're a fan, in the hope he lets them service him in the back of his luxury car.” He paused for a moment, scratching his chin. “I've been dealing with quite a few groupies - especially after away games, since you haven't got much time and they're...well, easy. But some of them, man, they're just terrible. Like, once I had a chick telling me something like “Oh, you're my second favorite player on the Kahunas”...if that isn't the biggest turn-off, I honestly don't know what is.”
Sophie raised her brow. “Oh, that must have been terrible.”
“You could tell. But I mean, it's like you said...that's just sex. Or better, that's an easy way of getting off. It doesn't make me feel wanted.” The otter averted his gaze. “When I saw you peeking at me when I passed you as I got off that plane, I immediately realized you weren't an average fan, or actually that my “celebrity status” wasn't what got your attention in the first place. So when I saw you again, as you checked in the hotel on Thursday afternoon, I took a gamble and I made sure you received a certain note. The perks of being a VIP, you know.”
Sophie nodded as Scoonie gave her the confirmation he needed. He was pretty dead-on in her assessment, although the only reason she'd noticed him at first had been the fact that she HAD indeed recognized him from his basketball games. “So you were the reason I got to that table at dinner? You planned that along with the hotel manager?” she asked. It was an obvious plan in its simplicity, but one she still struggled to fathom a man like Scoonie would attempt on her.
In response, the otter let out a big grin. “I had to leave a pretty generous tip – which proved to be totally worthwhile. This was the best company I had in quite a long time,” he said, leaning over to kiss her on the tip of her nose.
“Oh, you flatterer.” Sophie covered her cheeks with her paws, in an attempt to hide her blush. “I don't know why, but I find difficult to believe that. A skilled lover like yourself must have been in a lot of relationships, especially a young guy like you...isn't it so?” As soon as she ended that sentence, Sophie wished he'd never said it. What right did she have to ferret her way through Scoonie's private life?
But just as she was to apologize for her indiscreet question, the otter surprised her again with another question of his own. “You mean “relationship” as in like, a stable relationship, right?”
“Well, yeah. Though if you don't want to answer, I'm not gonna force you into it.”
“It's not that, Sophie. Just so you know...I haven't been in a lot of serious relationships.” He paused, trying to find the right words, “My first time was at thirteen and everything but special. The girl was my friend Custer's older sister – she was two years ahead of me, but I was six feet tall and not skinny so it was easy to mistake me for a fifteen or sixteen years old. Well, I dated this girl for a couple weeks, we did movies, mall trips and the like, until out of the blue she started to pressure me into having sex. Now I know what you're thinking – isn't what all guys dream of? - but remember, she was older than me and sort of a weirdo, I'd just turned thirteen and was just a kid in the body of a high schooler. I was terrified.”
He scratched his chin before continuing, his whiskers twitching. “Well, eventually she wore me out and I just surrendered to her pleas, and it wasn't rape, because I said yes, but it got damn close. She, uhm, I don't know how to put it - she did all the working while I just stood there and took it, my body rigid as a dead fish. It was so bad I got legitimately scared of women for a while, and if it hadn't been for my sister talking it out with me, I'm not sure I would have found my way out of it before college.”
Sophie let out a small gasp, shaken by Scoonie's odd story. “Well, she sounds like a legit creep. But you said you got out of that, right?”
He nodded. “Well, if you look at the amount of partners I had in these last ten years, you could say so. However, to answer your previous question, just two girls I was with lasted more than a month. First one was a small, cute otter girl called Brittney, whose father was probably the richest man in town and never missed the opportunity to let it be known that he didn't want me anywhere near her daughter. I saw her again last summer, she'd just got married to a man who could have been her father, so I think I dodged a bullet there.
Then, while on senior high, I met this lioness Deevika. She was smokin' hot, for lack of a better term, and we bonded over being both South Asian, as she came over from Sri Lanka when she was a kitten. The star athlete and the hottest chick in school – sounds about right, huh? Well, we went on separate colleges, and the first time I got to visit her in Ohio, I discovered she'd already been screwed by half the football team.”
Somehow, in the back of her mind, Sophie knew that “what a slut” wouldn't be the best thing to say, since she wasn't supposed to harbor negative feelings towards the ex-girlfriend of a man she'd known for two days and wasn't supposed to see anymore past that. The alternative question she came up with, however, had such big implications that she would instantly regret asking it. “You seeing someone right now?”
Damn, Sophie. You just had to said that. All that talking of no more ties, commitments and all that shit, and you just throw yourself right into the arms of the first guy you have a good time with.
Scoonie sighed audibly, then got close and pulled her in a hug. “Right now, Sophie, I'm trying to get some solid ground under my paws before committing to anything serious,” he said. “After the rookie year I had, my future in the FBA is everything but guaranteed. This is my make or break season – I've been working towards that goal for the whole summer, and I fear a romantic relationship would just divert my attention.” He kissed her on her forehead, all too aware he was letting her down. “Besides, due to our jobs, neither I nor you are gonna live in the same place for more than two weeks anywhere in the near future.”
Sophie nodded, burying her reddened cheeks in the otter's chest fur. She knew that a subject change was in order, but couldn't think of anything except for Scoonie's words. Something bumped into her nose – a metallic fishbone pendant, dangling from the otter's neck. “That's a cute necklace,” she said, taking it into her paw and holding it up close. “Where did you find it?”
The otter tensed, his features immediately serious. “It was a gift from a friend. A very special friend,” he said, and by the tone of his voice it was all too clear he didn't want to talk about it.
“Oh, I see,” Sophie said, catching the otter's drift. “I'd better get ready,” she said, heading towards the Samsonite suitcase she'd conveniently brought in from her room the day before.
Fifteen minutes later, the otter was back to his usual cheerful self. He complimented her for how she looked in the company's trademark elegant blue dress and shining shoes. “So you know, I've always dreamed of doing it with a hostess,” he added jokingly, licking his lips at the sight. “I didn't get to do that on a plane, but hey, I'm not complaining one bit!”
“You silly otter,” Sophie chuckled, giving him a playful jab in the ribs. “I really gotta go now,” she whispered, picking up her suitcase and trench. "Boarding starts in an hour."
“Wait a sec, Sophie! Got something for you!” He produced a piece of cardboard, very similar to the one she'd found in her napkin two days earlier. “This is my phone number and home address. If you ever get to Honolulu, just give me a call – I'd be honored to treat you to dinner.”
"Thank you, Scoonie. I'd really love to visit Hawaii, sooner or later." She tucked the card in her uniform's pocket, before. "Now I really have to leave." The two mustelid shared one last kiss - Sophie being the one to break it first. One more minute in that room, and she wasn't sure she'd be able to get out by herself.
Sophie closed the hotel room's door behind her, the taste of the otter still fresh on her lips. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she hoped that this wouldn't be the last time she got to feel it.
- All About That Body (Furballer Interview)
- Guy Talks and Girl Talks
- Kahunas’ Scoonie Barrett buys a $6.5 million mansion in Honolulu
- Scoonie Barrett set to be the new face of Ford Furry Motors, signs endorsement deal
2013 - 2014 Regular Season Stats
2014 - 2015 Regular Season Stats
2015 - 2016 Regular Season Stats
2016 - 2017 Regular Season Stats