Story:A Weekend with The Bunny
A Weekend with The Bunny
Written by Blades and Rourkie
A town car pulled up to Ash's house at a pre-determined time prior to his flight. It was not a limo, but it was the nicest car he or his sister had ever seen. Black, shiny and posh, the car looked more like it should belong in a museum than on the road Ash grinned a bit, seeing the ride before him.
"Wow... Wildfyre really pulling out the stops here."
Suzanne seemed in awe. "Is that... for us, Ashley?"
"Yeah, Suzanne... it is...C'mon, let's get our bags in. Sooner we do, sooner you'll get to meet Lance."
The driver tipped his hat to both of them before insisting they let him handle the bags, before opening the door for them. The interior was butter-soft leather, lighter colored than the outside might have suggested, with glasses of sparkling non-alcoholic strawberry cider already bubbling on a nearby tray for their enjoyment.
"Good lord, this is nicer than most of the houses around here!"
Ash stepped into the car and put his seatbelt on. He helped Suzanne out with her seatbelt and handed her a glass of the strawberry cider. The bubbles danced on tongues, effervescent fruits to mirror the levity of the day. The driver let the two siblings enjoy a moment alone before entering the vehicle. "Just sit back and enjoy the scenery, folks. If y'all are hungry, we can stop somewhere as well, though I reckon they'll feed you on the plane, all proper-like."
"Thank ya sir. Being honest, I had no idea this was the kinda treatment we'd be getting today."
"Mister Wildfyre likes to make a good impression," the chauffeur offered by way of little explanation. He smiled. "My recommendation is you just enjoy yourself."
The ride was pretty uneventful, the scenery rolled by as the seat was soft enough to almost lull the siblings into sleep. The airport seemed to arrive too soon. Ash had to wake Suzanne up as they arrived "C'mon, up and at 'em!". The driver handed the pair their tickets and took their bags to check-in for them, leaving the two to find the gate on their own. "I trust you can take it from here. Enjoy your flight," he said with a wave. Although it was a domestic flight, the tickets were seated in 'Business Class Plus.' Ash made sure to thank the man, offering some money as a tip as he left. "Thank you very much sir. I appreciate everything." The driver smiled and accepted the tip. "Thank you. That's very kind."
The gate wasn't hard to find. There wasn't too much foot traffic to the gate, and security was quick and painless. The siblings were in the first boarding group, and boarded into what could only be described as flying recliners. Ash's mouth simply went agape as he entered their cabin of the plane. Suzanne smiled and hopped into her flying recliner with glee. Her brother sat down quietly still taking in the surroundings.
"Lot nicer than our Hawaii flight, huh sis?"
She nodded with a smile.
Ash leaned back in his soft chair. He kept thinking, how'd he manage to deserve all this? Whatever it was... maybe it was better to not ask why? Just sit back and enjoy it. A decent breakfast was served, hot towels provided, and the flight was rather comfortable. Upon arriving in Boston, the plane disembarked, and a rabbit in shades and a Hawaiian shirt meant more for fashion than being incognito met the two raccoons at the gate with a sign with their names on it.
Ash walked up to the rabbit, holding Suzanne's hand as they each carried their bags "Ash and Suzanne. That's us."
"Hi guys! Welcome to New England. I hope you don't mind flying into Logan, I usually spend the summer at my brother's house, and it was closer to drive here than it was to get to Portsmouth."
"Not a problem at all. Honestly so far, the hospitality's been more than I expected. I know better than to beg and choose."
The rabbit laughed. "Why wouldn't I treat my special guests well?" Lance pulled off his glasses to make sure Suzanne knew it was him. "Honestly, you're the first ones to ever accept my offer. There's not really much of a precedent set for this yet... "
Suzanne's eyes lit up bright as a Christmas tree "You... you're Lance!"
Ash chuckled a bit. "That's Suzanne for ya." patting her shoulder gently. "And I'm honestly surprised I'm the first to take this chance up."
"Haha, yeah. I am," he said to Suzanne before turning to Ash. "And I dunno. Some people are intimidated by wanting to meet me. Can you believe that?" He smiled a genuine smile at the pair, different from the one he usually gave the press or the TV cameras.
"Really, I'm surprised at that... " Ash got out before Suzanne chimed in, smiling so widely from Lance merely acknowledging her.
"We were at the last finals game!"
"You were? Wow. You came all the way to Hawaii?" Lance asked, surprised and impressed. "That must have been quite the trip for you! Why don't you tell me about it as we walk to the car?"
"Sure thing Mr. Wildfyre!" Ash kept holding her hand as they walked.
Lance listened as the young raccoon talked about their trip. The rabbit led them to a car similar to the first one they rode in that day. "I hope you saved room for lunch, my brother is making homemade pizza."
"Sounds great!" Suzanne smiled again.
"Yeah, I like the sound of that," Ash said, giving a nod. "Something special about homemade. Can't say exactly what but it's just... special."
"His pizza is good, he's making it from scratch. I would have taken you out, but the kiddos fuss when we stay out too late at a restaurant, and I gather we'll be doing a lot of talking."
"Honestly, I think this'll be nicer. Feels a bit more personal, ya know?"
"Absolutely." The rabbit chuckled, and turned his attention to Suzanne. "You really like basketball, huh?"
"I do! I really do!" she giggled, nodding and smiling. "It was always awesome seeing my brother play in school. Seeing one of your finals games was my wish for my birthday."
"Oh, well, happy late birthday to you." He smiled. "My kits just had their birthday, and mine isn't that far away either. Summer birthdays are great, aren't they?"
"They sure are! Pool parties, ice cream and water balloons!" she exclaimed.
"Those are all good things," Lance replied. "My best friend growing up had a pool, his family let us borrow it for my birthday. He was at the last game too, you know?"
"Oh yeah, I remember you posting something about that," Ash cut into the conversation shortly. "And when I hit the league... I'll make sure you and Mama get good seats to my premier game," he assured Suzanne.
"It's true, each team has a friends and family section, they're very good seats," Lance agreed.
"Really?" Suzanne seeming interested. "That's nice of the people in charge."
"Well, they're very nice to the players so they can play well."
"Maybe I can play someday?"
The rabbit leaned forward a little to get closer to her to address the question: "You absolutely can." The rabbit chuckled, his belly bouncing a little as he did, made more obvious by the snug fabric stretching around his middle as he leaned in. It had only been a couple of weeks after the final game, but already the rabbit was starting to sport the off-season body which had been the subject of a countless number of articles of criticism for the rabbit in his almost decade of playing.
Suzanne smiled widely at Lance's positive reinforcement. Ash also grinned. "I'll teach her everything I know, Lance." He noticed the growth in Lance's stomach. "Enjoying your well-deserved off-season already, I see." he said in a joking tone, trying to keep the mood light so he wouldn't take it the wrong way.
Lance chuckled, his cheeks coloring a little. "Yeah, I gotta make up for lost time," he teased, patting his belly. "Don't worry, I'm still in plenty good shape to play you one-on-one before lunch if you'd like? Show me some of your moves?"
"Sounds like my old teammate Blake," Ash responded, chuckling a little. "But yeah, I'd love that, Lance! Always take up a chance to test myself. And against an FBA champion? Absolutely!"
"Yeah?" The rabbit chuckled a little more. "Is he the competitive type? And I'll go easy on you, if you want, but I suspect you're not looking for that kind of game, are you?" His eyes twinkled, knowingly.
"Wouldn't ask for an easy game," Ash answered. "And Blake, very competitive and a sweet tooth that might make even you blush."
"Well, I dunno." the rabbit said, bashfully. "I could put on a hundred pounds in the off-season, and still not be as heavy as I used to be." The rabbit gave more of a genuine blush at that. "But that's a story for another day," Lance explained, recomposing himself. "So, tell me a little more about you, how you got to where you are?"
"Me? Well, forewarning it's not the happiest story, so if you're really emotional, might wanna have a pack of tissues on hand." Lance nodded. "Only if you're up for it; this is supposed to be a happy visit. I'm happy and curious to listen, since we've still got about 40 minutes until we arrive, but if that's also a story for later in the day, I understand." He seemed open to listening, but also shot a quick glance at Suzanne, as if to say, "If you'd rather we wait until she was out of earshot, we can."
"I'll tell you some of it now. Other stuff will have to wait for when we're... out of mixed company, but I can spin a bit of that yarn now..."
"Well, we are adopted," Ash started. "Our mother left the family before I was a year old and our dad died when I was only thirteen. It was a roller coaster varying from respite homes to homelessness. I picked up basketball more as a job of sorts, a way to hustle some cash so we could at least eat. I didn't think of going pro until I turned sixteen... apparently I had some inheritance to collect, and among it was... " Ash pulled a baseball card from his jacket in a stiff protector. It depicted a raccoon and bore the name Carl Van Zant. "I... I had no idea he ever did that. I was never much good at baseball but I thought... maybe with basketball in a way it was my chapter in the legacy he left to us."
"I can understand that. And sometimes parents don't tell their kids everything... " Lance said, thoughtfully, before snapping back to attention. "I went through the foster system myself, I know what it's like."
"Oh, have I got a thread or two to tell on that front... " Ash seemed to stare off a bit.
Lance nodded. "How old are you?" he asked, the question seeming to be irrelevant, to the conversation.
"I'm nineteen, Suzanne just turned nine. Our mother came back for a short time, had her and just... disappeared again. On top of my brother getting killed in a car accident around that time. Talk about a one-two punch... "
"Ah, yeah, that's absolutely rough." Lance nodded, empathetically. "I was going to say, we could have a cider later and talk it over in detail, but we're not close enough to the Canadian border to do that… unless you spend the night. Which, you're welcome to. Or I could put you up in a hotel, up to you. Did I mention I've never done this before?" The rabbit laughed, trying to break a little of the tension. "I'm sorry, you were in the middle of your story. Please, continue."
"If you wanna put me up, i'm down for that." Ash gave him the nod for that. "Anyways, yeah. I suppose we lucked out in that we got a woman who adopted us together. A rabbit woman, funny enough." "Though I still had to hustle streetball. She got hit with a paycut and damn m-- " Ash stopped himself "... I mean, 'darn' me if I was gonna let us go back into the system. Got into more than a couple fights over getting stiffed on bets."
"Heh, I know how that hustle works. Not streetball, but making bets to survive." The rabbit stayed pretty tight lipped on the details. "Are you still living with your adopted mom, now?"
"Yes we do. She wanted to fill the nest after her daughter went off to college. First thing I wanna do when I get paid... pay off her mortgage. A way of saying thank you. Especially with how old I was at the time, Not easy to get adopted as a teenager. But... she gave me a chance and kept us together."
The rabbit nodded, about to say something, when the car slowed. "Oh, we're here."
The house wasn't huge, but it wasn't small either. Situated on a hill, the main entrance was split between floors, the top floor overlooking the road as the car pulled to the curb. A second story downstairs opened up into the large yard and the pool in the back. Down the driveway was a full-sized streetball court, which looked like it could double as extra parking if need be.
"Oh wow... " Ash taking in the view as he helped Suzanne out of the car. "This is impressive."
"Thanks. One of the first things I did with my paycheck was buy my brother this house. Kinda like what you're planning to do."
"Good to see not every player blows it on silly things and cheap thrills. Having been poor to the point of being a pickpocket, I know I never wanna go back to that."
"Well, I think you and I are similar in a lot of ways," the rabbit commented, before tipping the driver. "Thank you James, tell the missus I say hello," he said, quietly as they were let out. "So, this is home. I mean, until I got my place in Bangor, this was really where I considered home to be."
"Well, certainly a pretty good set of digs dare I say. Then again they say home's where the heart is."
"Thanks. It's really more that for the longest time my brother was my only family."
"And for me, my sister was my only family for a stretch. I do see the similarities in you and me."
Lance nodded. "Well, we both have larger families now. Would you like to meet mine?" As if on cue, the front door opened up, and a small tan and black rabbit girl ran down the porch to hug Lance. A similar-statured (though a fair bit pudgier) black and tan bunny boy stood in the doorway, leaning against a slightly taller, slightly broader version of Lance.
"Absolutely." Ash nodding his head. "Tell me all about 'em."
Lance picked up his daughter, who seemed very content to settle against his midsection.
"You got it. This little lady is Sage, that little shadow over there is Basil, and this is my brother, Patrick."
"Hi, it's nice to meet you both," the older brother said, coaxing Basil to come outside with him.
Ash got down to Sage's eye level and brushed his hair from his face "Hey there. Name's Ash." Sage smiled. "Hi! I'm Sage! Where's your baskehball shirt? Daddy says you gonna play baskehball and we can watch!" she commented, excitedly.
"Oh, I ain't got it on right now. But I did make sure to bring it," he explained, pulling his Vanderbarn jersey from his backpack and showing her.
"Oh okay. I got one of Daddy's but it's kinda like a dress"
"Makes sense, I mean he is bigger than you. My sister Suzanne there tried this on and it went down to her knees," he grinned, pointing to the jersey in his hands. She nodded and giggled.
Lance grinned at the exchange. "Well, can I get you guys situated? Maybe show you to your rooms? Ah... Did you wanna stay together in twin beds or have separate rooms?"
"The twin beds works fine," Ash said with a smile.
Lance nodded, and led the pair to their room. The bedroom was decorated well, but very generically. Light comforters adorned the bed, accompanied by a pair of lamps, dressers, and a door to a private bathroom. Definitely meant for comfort and privacy, it was almost staged like a hotel room, as if the rabbits received guests rather often. Suzanne went and sat down on her bed immediately, feeling how soft the mattress was. Ash smiled. "Lance, thank you again for being so hospitable to us. It really means more than I can say."
"No need to say anymore. It's already been a pleasure for me." The bunny patted the raccoon on his knee as he sat on his bed. "Now c'mon, get ready! We got a game to play!"
"Got it!" Ash turned back to Suzanne. "Suzie, how about you head back down to the basketball court okay? Brother's gotta get ready to play." She smiled and nodded as she skipped out the door, headed back down to said court. He sat down for only a minute, pondering a little before he changed into his old Vanderbarn uniform. He looked himself in the mirror, smile on his face.
"It's happenin' man... it's actually happenin'!" Ash walked out of the room with a hop in his step.
As he entered the court, he saw Suzanne among the small gathering cheering as he walked on. He made the effort to stop and fist-bump with her. "I do it all for you Suzanne... " he said, before standing in face off with Lance. "Been countin' down the days to this moment... "
"Well, don't let me down Ash... Game on!"