The Wolf and the Lamb

by Failte200

Chapter 15

"Old Guard?" Gordon asked once he was seated at the bar along with Tristan and Taylor. Sam was, of course, behind it, putting his bat away.

"Yeah - I guess you don't call 'em that where you're from... The 'Old Guard' is what we - City folk, that is - call the original Blood and Teeth followers - those who still practice the exercises and arts. Not many people have time for that sort of thing nowadays. Rat-race, y'know."

"But there are still some, then?"

"Oh, sure - but it's mostly the old conservatives and the young rebels. Big-Wigs and Hippies. It's kind of funny, when ya think about it. Odd bed-fellows." Sam turned to the wolf and his boyfriend and smiled, "Uhm - no offense, boys."

"None taken," Tristan said.

"Huh?" Taylor said, looking up from the order-pad in which he'd been sketching.

"Never mind, Taylor," Sam said, trying to peer at his notebook, "Say - what're you doing there, anyway..."

"Oh. I was just doing a sketch of you. It's kinna hard, 'cuz you're all white, and the paper's white, so it's mostly just-"

"May I see?"

"Uh..." the boy hesitated, mildly afraid he might have been caught doing something he shouldn't, "Yeah... I guess..." He handed the order-pad to the bear.

What it was "mostly just" was eyes, nose, and outline. It looked like Taylor was just beginning to add some shading to define his muzzle. But the important part was - it looked just like him.

"You do this a lot, young man?"

"Well... when I get a chance..."

"Lemme see," Tristan said. Sam handed him the pad. "Oh, yeah. Portraits. He does 'em all the time, and pretty good too, I think."

"As do I... Taylor - do you think you could draw a picture - bigger than this - of me and Clara?"

That was the end of Taylor's housework.

The stage-coach showed up right on time two days later, to take the travelers to Civilization. It would take a few days - but they were on their way. Exactly where in the City they were going they had no idea. Sam had told them that the Blood and Teeth Lodge had been moved twice since he'd been an active member. As the City grew, the Lodge had to keep moving to stay on the edge of the wilderness. Blood and Teeth needed as much real-estate as it could get, and preferably of varied terrain. Sam had no idea where the Lodge might be now.

But it didn't matter, they'd find it. What was important, the wolf and the lamb thought, was that they would soon realize their dream.

And they would - but they didn't know that dreams have a way of changing as time goes by.

Sam was sorry to see them go. His smoke-house was finished though, and fairly-well stocked thanks to Tristan. It was just that it had been nice having trustworthy people around for a change. It gave him a break from his usual work, doing everything himself, while Clara watched the store. Too bad they had to go. He wished the best for the boys, though, and as for Gordon - well, he said he'd stop by on his way out.

Two days later a rather worn and tired-looking cougar came into the Tavern. She looked a bit like a comic-book Amazon, Sam thought, what with the vest that pushed up her bosom and her loin-cloth. Someone needed to show this woman how to dress... She looked at him with surprised eyes, as did most strangers.

"Polar bear. From up north. Way up north. Help ya ma'am?"

That seemed to satisfy her - or perhaps her business was simply too urgent for small talk. She held her hand horizontally above and beside her head and said, "Rabbit," then she lowered it to a little less than her own height, and said, "Wolf." Finally, her hand down to the level of her belly, she added, "Sheep."

Sam regarded her suspiciously. "You just missed 'em. Left two days ago." He could lie later about which way they'd gone, if he thought it necessary.

She stamped the floor and pounded her head with her fist, "Bock! Bock, bock, bock, BOCK!!!" Then she caught her breath and looked back at the bear behind the bar. "Rabbit come back?"

"Beats me. Why do you need to know, anyway?"

She put her hands together, interlocking her fingers, "I and Gordon-rabbit."

"I see. He didn't say anything about having a partner..."

The cougar smiled and chuckled lightly, "He not... uh... He not know. Yet. I try find. I tell."

She seemed like a good enough sort - and if Gordon were to ever take up with anyone, it was easy to imagine it being a woman like this. Sam made up his mind.

"He'll be back, ma'am. Don't know how long it's gonna be, though. He didn't say."

"I wait." She turned to go back outside.

"Hold on there, ma'am... Would you... be interested in a job? Room and board?" And some decent clothes... he added to himself.


Animal-horses were everywhere - everywhere! - pulling wagons or coaches, sometimes singly, sometimes in teams of four or even eight. Buildings made of stone - four, five, six stories high! Even the street was laid with bricks. The sidewalks were cement - everything was stone or cement or brick. Everything was made to last. And so many people! And the best part - all different kinds of people, walking, riding, talking - no one paying the slightest attention to anyone else's species. There were squirrels talking to wolves talking to mice... There was some kind of orange-and-black striped cat leaning up against a wall chatting up a deer.

No one cared! There was another cat - a lynx, it looked like - walking hand-in-hand with a horse-man. Other people said hello to them - a coyote, a bison, a couple of rats tipped their hats as they went by the couple. Taylor beamed, and even Tristan couldn't help smiling. He felt the lamb squeeze his hand tightly, and squeezed back. It was really true - all the species living together, not caring whether you were predator or prey, cat or mouse, wolf or sheep. As they passed through the City, they saw a whole herd of little children - all different species - being paraded towards some particularly impressive-looking building. Obviously school-kids. Probably a library. Their teachers were another bison and - as absurd as it seemed - a badger.

There was just far too much to take in - but the most important thing was that what The Lady had told them was true. They could live here, Tristan and Taylor, the wolf and the lamb. No one was going to bat an eye about that, let alone that they were both boys. Their age difference might raise a few eyebrows, but they could deal with that for a few years. So far at least, no one "Civilized" seemed to have a problem with that, either.

They were finally there. The coach stopped in front of the livery stable to unload them and their luggage, and they set foot in this new place for the first time. It was over. The trip was over. It was mid-summer, and the wolf-and-the-lamb's new life could begin.

They looked around. So... now what?

"So... now what?" Tristan asked.

"We need to find the lodge – they'll put us up and help us get acquainted with the city," Gordon said, also looking around. He picked a random passer-by – a wolf – and asked, "Excuse me, sir – do you know where the Blood and Teeth lodge is?"

The wolf looked at him a bit scornfully, and never stopped walking, "No, I don't know – and I don't care."

Gordon watched him walk away, a little perplexed.

"Maybe he was just a jerk..." Taylor offered.

The rabbit tried again – a horse this time – with nearly the same rebuke. These people knew what Blood and Teeth was – and wanted nothing to do with it, it seemed. Sam the polar bear hadn't prepared him for that.

"Well... let's eat. We can ask around later. Over there."

They worked their way across the busy street – Tristan making a point of holding-on to Taylor's hand this time, rather than the other way around – and went in to a diner called "The Boomer", where they picked a table away from the other customers. Tristan ordered a whole-pound hamburger, while the herbivores had salads that came in huge bowls.

"Well, at least they know how to feed us..." the wolf jibed.

But that was about as far as the table-conversation went for awhile. They were all too busy getting used to the whole idea of being in the City, and something as every-day as eating a meal in this wonderfully strange – and yet perhaps a little odd – place, just seemed wrong somehow. As if they should have had wonderfully strange food to complement it, instead of a burger and salad.

Once their food arrived though, they forgot all about how wrong it seemed. Hunger will do that.

"Sam never said anything about people being anti -Blood-and-Teeth, did he?" Tristan asked after he'd finished. It had taken him no more than five minutes to eat the whole thing. Gordon and Taylor still had most of their salads to go. They chewed more than Tristan did.

"No... he just said there weren't many 'Old Guard' members anymore. They don't seem to be very in favor of it though, do they... I wish I'd asked him how long ago he left. I'm betting it was more than just three months."

"Well, let's get it over with – I'll do it this time, bunny-man," Tristan said, and stood up: "Attention! Helloooo? We're trying to find the Blood and Teeth Lodge. Can anyone point us in the right direction?"

Everyone stopped talking. Deafening silence filled the small diner. Tristan sat back down, abashed. "Guess not..." he said. Gradually mumbling began, followed by a laugh here and there, and soon the other patrons were talking just as if Tristan had never said anything at all.

"Well, hell-" Gordon started to curse – but stopped himself short as a girl with a very large tail, which she held higher than her head, approached the table. She was a squirrel – but not like any they'd ever seen. She was red.

"You guys 're B&T? Like, Old Guard or something?"

Tristan and Gordon looked at each other. Predator or prey – everybody found squirrels sexy. It was all that fluffy tail that did it. And the legs.

"Uh, yes ma'am," Gordon said, trying to keep from staring, "I've been told that's what you'd call us here. We're from... far away."

"Cool! Mind if I sit down?"

"No! Not at all!" Tristan said eagerly, pulling out the empty chair for her. That would put her right next to him, between him and Gordon. The girl was probably in her mid-twenties, but to the teenage wolf, it hardly mattered. He couldn't help staring at her tail as she sat. Ye Gods...

For that matter, neither could Taylor. But, being Taylor – he just stared outright and said, "You're tail is... just amazing... uh..."


"... Amy. And... you're red."

She smiled at him, "Thanks. What's your name?"


"Thanks, Taylor. Yeah, I'm red, and I'm a squirrel. Guess what they call us..."

"Uhm... Red Squirrels?"

"Bingo! Right the first time!" she giggled, "You guys aren't from around here, then, if you've never seen a Red Squirrel before."

"No," Gordon said, "We're from way back East."

"Really? They have B&T way back East?"

"Well... not really. Just us. So, you can tell us where the lodge is? We hear they'll put us up for awhile until we get settled here. I mean, until they get settled here."

"You're not stayin'? Why not?"

"Just not a city dweller, I guess. I'd rather be out in the wild. By the way – I'm Gordon, and the wolf's name is Tristan."

"Hey guys," she nodded at the wolf and him, "Wow – I envy you. Going out in the wild, by yourself, living on your own... That must be so cool! I could never do it, though. Give up shopping? No way, man..."

"So... about the lodge..."

"No problem - I'll take ya – I'm headed that way myself. You guys finish your dinner. It'll be nice to have some new blood around the place – especially a young predator – Tristan, was it? We're kind of short on predators who don't need a cane to walk. We have like two – and they're both cats. You good at chasing? I just love being chased!"

Although Tristan couldn't imagine being able to concentrate on a chase with a tail like hers in front of him, he said, "Yeah... yeah, I can chase..."

"He sure can!" Taylor interjected, "You should see him chase Gordon! He can almost catch him, too!"

"Thanks, Tay..." the wolf said somewhat dejectedly. He hadn't needed the girl to hear that he could almost catch the rabbit.

Taylor mock-punched him in the arm, "Well, you almost can ..."

Amy flagged down a taxi with a flick of her tail – she knew everyone looked at it – and they were soon on their way. While they rode, Gordon asked her why people seemed so... cold... when he'd asked them for directions.

"Oh, that's just the way people are here. See, B&T used to be a big deal, like in my Dad's time. Everyone was doing it. But now people are like... it's hard to explain... it's like they're ashamed of being what they are. They don't wanna be reminded that they're mice, or cats, or horses – whatever. They'd just rather ignore it, for some reason. I don't know what they think they'd be if they weren't mice or cats or horses. But anyway – that's why they acted like jerks when you asked about the B&T lodge. Getting in touch with our species is what we're all about, what the Founder of B&T taught. The message got a little... twisted... as time went by."


"Yeah. B&T teaches that predators and prey – all the species – can get along peacefully, and even learn appreciate and enjoy each other's differences. That we don't have be afraid or guilty about how we make each other feel. Somehow, that got turned into a whole 'violence is bad' thing - and animal-life is violent by Nature. So it's like most people turned away from Nature - and B&T - in order to be "better than animals". I did my thesis on it in college. Lucky my professor was Old Guard too."

"So... everyone knows what it is, and they don't think it's right?"

"Well, some things stuck. You can see that all the different people get along with each other now – it wasn't always that way. But it's considered almost rude to mention that someone's a wolf, or a rabbit, or a squirrel now. That's why I like you guys – you're real, you're not trying to hide what you are. Gordon – when you said 'the wolf's name is Tristan', I knew you were good people. No one here would have dared say something like that. It's sad, really."

"Yeah... it really is..." Tristan agreed. So – there were things both good and bad about Civilization, then. Or perhaps not exactly 'bad', but... different, anyway.

They made more small-talk about the City as they passed through it, heading north. When the taxi passed through an ornate stone-and-wrought-iron gate, the passengers went silent, wondering where they were going. When it stopped in front of an enormous and regal-looking building – surely a bank, or a theater, or something like that – they wondered even more.

"This is the Blood and Teeth lodge?" Gordon said, awed by the grandeur of it. He'd expected something a bit more... well, down-to-earth. This place looked – no other word for it – rich.

"Yeah. Kinna scary, isn't it? A lot of our members are old, rich, and powerful. Big-wigs, we call 'em. There's a lot more of them than there are of us – they call us 'hippies'. We're the young blood. Gordon – you'd be somewhere in between. C'mon, I'll introduce ya! This is so cool, bringing in new people! And from far away? I can't wait to hear how you learned B&T back east."

They were ushered through wide, high-ceilinged hallways into a mahogany-paneled bar, where sat a collection of exactly the kind of people one would expect to see in a building like this. Suits, ties, canes, cigars. Whiskey- and scotch-drinkers. But at least they were still all different species. Amy brought them to the table of another squirrel who's tail was graying with age.

"Dad? I found these guys looking for the B&T lodge – this is Gordon, and Tristan, and that's Taylor. They're Old Guard from somewhere back east, they say."

"Gentlemen – welcome to Civilization. Please, have a seat." he snapped his fingers to bring the bartender over.

They sat, and Amy too. The seats were all high-backed and over-stuffed, in keeping with the general sumptuousness of the surroundings. It didn't feel very... Blood-and-Teeth like... to say the least.

"My name is Merv, I run the paper here. So, just how far 'back east' do you hail from..."

"You know about the Desert on the other side of the mountains?" Gordon asked.


"Well, we're from the other side of the mountains on the other side of the Desert."

"That is far east... how did you manage to come here? And... why?"

"My Mentor was from here. She wanted to spread Blood and Teeth to the Town that the Tristan and Taylor here come from... But it didn't quite catch on like she'd hoped. So when these two showed up, she decided that she'd better get them back here anyway. She was getting too old to make the trip if she waited any longer."

All the other voices making small talk in the bar had gone silent while Gordon was talking. The old squirrel had set his drink down and was looking intently at him now.


"We don't know her name – we just called her The-"

"Roma," Taylor interrupted.

The squirrel's eyes shot to Taylor so fast that the lamb was afraid he'd said something wrong. Amy said, "Oh my god..." Elsewhere in the room, someone was having a coughing fit.

Gordon was looking at Taylor too. "Taylor? She told you her name? When?"

"I... I just sort of remembered... She told me the day before... uh..."

"Roma?" Merv asked, "You're sure? What was her species, Taylor?"

"Uh... she was a goat."

"What did she look like?"

"Well... mostly brown, but with a lot of white spots. And really big boobs."

"Gods... so that's where she went. Where is she now, Taylor?" Several other people were now clustered around the table, standing and listening intently to the conversation.


Gordon answered, "She died in the Desert. You folks knew her?"

Of course they knew her. Roma had come to Civilization from across the ocean, in a ship whose crew was attempting to prove that the world was spherical by sailing around it. By the time it got to their shore, though, Roma was the only one left alive – and that just barely. She was the Founder of Blood and Teeth in Civilization, and the leader of the movement, once it got to be a "movement".

She'd started off with a small rented store-front shop, and offered to teach her style of fighting to anyone who cared to learn – free of charge. While she was at it, the philosophy of Blood and Teeth was taught as well. At first it was mostly prey-species who came, wanting to learn to defend themselves from the predators – but after awhile, a few predators started coming in too, because they'd been impressed by the skill of the prey they'd been after. They practiced and learned right along side each other.

That was when it really took off.

Twenty years later, Roma found herself a celebrity, and head of a large organization. Her name was being tossed around in political circles.

And she hated it.

Those around her could tell, but what was there to be done about it? She was the Founder! It was her philosophy, her way of life they'd embraced! And it was still spreading! They needed her – as a figure-head if nothing else.

So one day she just disappeared. Without a word, without preparations, without so much as a note. Her and her bear husband just weren't at home one day. There was a half-hearted search, but everyone knew why she'd left. She was 55 years old at the time.

What they didn't know was where she'd gone. Until now.

Two weeks later, Tristan and Taylor were standing side-by-side at the Chase Field watching Gordon give two cats – a cougar and an all-black one who called herself a 'panther' – the hardest chase of their young lives. The rabbit was making them twist around in all sorts of un-cat-like ways to follow him, and the cougar had tripped over his own feet twice already. The panther, on the other hand, seemed to be holding back, never getting too close. She seemed to have something in mind.

"So how's the school?" Tristan asked.

"Oh, it's okay. We have to change rooms for every class though! It was so confusing at first..."

"Heh. Welcome to Jr. High, Tay."

"You hear back about your test yet?" Tristan was trying to test out of his senior year – some of the other members – including Amy – were helping him cram.

"Tomorrow, they tell me. Whoa! Did you see that?!" The panther had finally executed her plan - she got close enough for a leap, and tried to pounce down upon Gordon when he had no choice of which way to go because of the cougar. She could jump really high... and the rabbit didn't have room to turn around and go under her, so he'd fallen to his back just before she came down and planted both feet into her belly, levering her forward and up. She landed – ungracefully – ten feet beyond him. She stood up and shook her head, grinning at Gordon as he continued to evade the cougar.

"Yeah – they just love him. Neither of 'em has managed to so much as touch him so far. So... you like Amy, don'tcha, Tris..."

"Oh come on. Of course I like Amy – who wouldn't like Amy? You like Amy."

"Well... yeah, but-"

"But nothing, Tay. Okay look – yeah, I like Amy. I like Amy's tail. But Amy's not you, okay?" He tousled the boy's hair so that it fell down over his eyes. His sky-blue eyes. Even if the wolf couldn't see the sky-blue, he still wouldn't trade them for a big, fluffy tail. "Hey... Hey, what's this..." he said, feeling Taylor's scalp.

"My horns. They're finally coming in! Cool, huh?"

"Yeah... congratulations..." he tried to sound happy. Taylor was growing up - Tristan had known he would – but he hadn't realized before now, as he thought about it, how much he was going to miss the "kid". Things would change.

"There you boys are – I should have known," Merv the old squirrel said, coming up to them.

"Hey Merv," they both said.

"Tristan – you've passed your test. You're a high school graduate." He waited for reaction from the wolf, but only got a sigh in return. "Something wrong? I thought you'd be happy..."

"Yeah... I'm happy. But – now what do I do? I can't just keep living here – I feel like a free-loader..."

"Perhaps you'd be interested in a job..." Merv said.

"You... have an opening at the paper? Something I could do?"

"I hope so. Tristan – you and Taylor and Gordon are the only people to have known Roma for the last twenty-four years. But Gordon's not staying with us – despite my pleading. So I'm going to ask you to write about her, the things you and Taylor learned from her, and your journey here. You two are the last link we have with our Founder. Think you can do that?"

"Write? Me? Uh... I'm not really that good at writing things..."

"That's why we have editors, Tristan. They can polish whatever you have to say. I want to make it a series in the paper. Weekly. And – Taylor – I've seen your work, I'd like you to illustrate it. I'd like you to start with a picture of Roma as you knew her."

"Uh..." he looked up at Tristan as if for permission. The wolf just smiled and shrugged. "Yeah, I guess I can do that..."

Gordon stuck out his hand, "It's time for me to go, boys. Tristan..."

Tristan took the proffered hand, "G-" was all he got out. He pulled the rabbit into a hug – a hug he held for a long time. When he finally let go, tears were running from his eyes, and all he could do was try to joke it off - "Hope that wasn't too embarrassing..."

"It was, ya stupid wolf."

"... idiot rabbit."

Such was the way they parted company. Gordon stooped down to Taylor's level, "Goodbye, kiddo..."

"I'll miss you, Gordon..." Taylor said, hugging the rabbit tightly around the neck.

"I'll miss you too, Taylor," he could feel the boy trying to hold back sobs, "C'mon now – don't be like this. You got what you wanted – it's time for me to get what I've always wanted, y'know?"

"I know... Okay... I'm okay. I'm too old to cry..." Taylor let him go and Gordon stood up again.

It had been a long journey – in a lot of ways. For Gordon, it wasn't so much that he wanted to go, as it was just something he'd promised himself he would do. He reached back behind Taylor's left ear, and pretended to pull something out, then showed Taylor the quarter.

"Look what I found - you keep it. For luck."

Taylor rolled his eyes, "Silly rabbit – tricks are for kids."

During the three-day coach ride, Gordon wondered just why the hell he was leaving his friends. Other than The Lady, the wolf and the lamb had been the only friends he'd ever had. What was so important about going off somewhere to live on his own? It had been his dream since he could remember – but he'd forgotten why he used to dream it, now.

So here he was: free at last to do whatever he wanted - but not sure what he wanted anymore. He spent a lot of time just watching the world pass by outside the coach window. The horses were kept at a gallop, so it all just blurred together – but that was okay, Gordon wasn't paying attention anyway. He wouldn't have noticed if a fish swam up to his window and blew bubbles at him.

On the third day, the coach finally let him off at the End of the Road Tavern. Other than whisps of white rising from the smoke-house, little had changed there. He went inside.

It was empty as usual – he'd been the only passenger this far, so he had the place to himself. He went behind the bar and poured himself a mug of beer, then went back around to the other side to drink it and stare off into space for awhile, until he figured out his next move.

His old home was on this side of the Desert – but he had no reason to go back there. He'd broken those bonds long ago. He could go back to The Lady's shack... but his bond with her had been taken from him by death itself. He had no wish to live a memory. And as for the boys... well, they were going to have their own lives to lead. He felt honored to have been there at the start of it – but now they should make their own decisions – and possibly mistakes. That's what life was all about.

At least they had each other. They weren't alone.

Gordon had wanted to be alone! Well, now he was...

If only there were somewhere he could be... useful, at least. To others. Maybe do like The Lady had – set up shop somewhere and teach Blood and Teeth. That'd be... kind of nice... Make a difference in some lives. Make some lives better than they would have been without him.

He was beginning to see what had driven The Lady to do what she'd done. He'd never understood before.

Sam the polar bear, poked his head in to see if he had any customers and saw Gordon sitting there alone. The rabbit looked depressed, just sitting there staring at nothing with a full mug of beer that he hadn't touched yet. He raised his hand and almost said something in greeting – but then stopped himself. He had a better idea. He padded away silently.

Teesah was butchering her kills for the day, getting them ready to be hung up for smoking, when Sam found her.


She looked up at him questioningly.

"He's here. I'll take care of this later. C'mon."

She took off like a lightening bolt. Sam chuckled and jogged after her, hoping he wouldn't miss anything.

He didn't. When he got back to the tavern, he found Teesah just standing in the doorway from the kitchen, staring at Gordon, while Gordon continued staring at nothing. He didn't even know she was there, lost in thought as he was.

In the month she'd been there waiting for him, a lot of things had become clearer for Teesah. Things about what kind of life she hoped to lead, what kinds of things she hoped to do. Who she hoped to do them with... She had been getting anxious about the rabbit's return. Desperately anxious. And now he was there. A whole life, a whole existence, a whole future, a whole – everything was sitting there at the bar, looking dejectedly off into space. She had a plan, she had expectations, she had things to do with him, a place to take him, people to introduce him to. A life to lead with him. All these things had been crystallizing in her mind while she'd waited. He'd have done all those things with her before – she knew he would have.

Would he now? That rabbit at the bar didn't seem much like the one she'd known before. Something had changed. He'd changed. She'd rejected him before. Was she going to get another chance? And – how was she ever going to explain everything with her limited vocabulary? This is why she remained frozen in the doorway.

Sam looked the situation over and shook his head to himself. The things an inn-keeper had to do...


That snapped Gordon out of his pessimistic reverie, and he looked over, expecting to see the polar bear grinning at him.

Instead he saw a familiar cougar. And she wasn't grinning. "Teesah?" he asked, shocked to see her there.


And there was the bear, behind her. "Sam?"


Sam literally had to push the woman into the room.

"Sam!" she complained.

"Teesah..." he replied impatiently.

"Teesah?" Gordon said again.

"Gordon..." she said by way of explanation.

Sam was thinking, If these two aren't going to take care of their OBVIOUS business themselves, then at least I can have some fun. "You people are pathetic," he growled, and made wholly unecessary introductions - "Gordon, Teesah. Teesah, Gordon. Teesah here has been waiting for you over a month, Gordon, so-"

"SAM!" Teesah cried.

Gordon said, "She has? But why-"

Teesah had finally had enough of all this - "GORDON!" She held up her hands, "Dar toofushi con-mag SHUT UP! BOTH!"

Sam smiled, but the rabbit remained bewildered – and Teesah could see that. Well – there were other ways besides words to get one's point across. All the questions and possibilities had been confusing her – she wasn't used to that sort of thing. Teesah liked direct questions and equally direct answers, she wasn't one for equivocation. She strode purposefully up to Gordon and held up a hand, palm towards him.

He just stood there and blinked.

Huffing in indignation, the cougar put her hand back down and grabbed Gordon's, putting his hand up just as hers had been. Then she pressed her palm to his.

Then, slowly, and looking into Gordon's eyes, she curled her fingers down into the spaces between his, inter-locking them. Her amazing green cat-eyes never blinked. "Partner?"

What?, Gordon thought. Now this was unexpected... Unexpected? GODS! She'd been waiting for him all this time? She wanted to be his partner?

But what about -

And -

But -

And -

Partner? What... what exactly did that actually mean... He glanced toward Sam as if he thought the bear might explain - but Sam just rolled his eyes. He looked back at Teesah.

Into her eyes.

And his fingers closed in between hers. He'd figure out the rest later.

No. They'd figure out the rest later.

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