>>TOMBOI — PART ONE::
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.
Fara sighed, leaning her forehead against the steering wheel of her car. Stuck in traffic. Again. It seemed to her that the more roads they repaired in Corneria City, the worse the traffic got. It was, in recent days, borderline a nightmare.
One upon a time this wouldn't have worried her much. She'd have been living on the same base she was stationed at. Work was a short walk across grass and tarmacs. Now, though, she was employed as a civilian, working with ArSpace Dynamics. The money was good, she couldn't argue that at all.
It's just that, days like this, she really wanted an Arwing. With hyper-blasters. And maybe a few bombs for good measure…
She shook herself awake as traffic started moving, cutting off the highway and driving through a commercial district to ArSpace, a shortcut of sorts, depending on what time of day it was. She'd timed it right, and a few minutes later had beeped her car locked, walking across the parking lot and into the company's main office building. The guards knew her, checking her badge and waving her through the metal detectors. She smiled back, walking up the stairs.
Today was the first Monday of the month, after all, and in spite of traffic from Hell, that meant it was a good day. No matter what else was going on, Star Fox always stopped in today, usually for a couple hours. On slow months, they'd show up a few more times from boredom, hang out in the Engineer's cafeteria. Of course, first Monday of the month also meant the President insisted on talking to the company in a meeting, but she was willing to trade that annoyance for a few hours of good humor.
She shouldered her way through the doors and stopped, tilting her head to one side curiously. The department's usual receptionist/secretary was not at her post, and another female figure stood there instead, bent over one of the file cabinets, a mass of curly poodle hair obscuring her face. Right, their other receptionist had left to be a full-time mom right? So who was this?
Fara leaned on the doorframe and traced her eyes up and down the girl's frame briefly, lingering on what appeared to be a huge, geared kneebrace. "Excuse me?"
The poodle startled and stood, straightening to look at her, a file held to her chest. Then she grinned, "Fara? Fara Phoenix?!"
"Oh my god, Fay?" Fara blurted, stepping forward and instantly getting crushed in a hug, Fay's usual tropic perfume invading her nose. "Fay, I haven't seen you since basic training, girl!" She had to laugh, returning the hug and picking Fay off the ground in the process, laughing more when she squealed and kicked her feet, flinging her flats off in the process. "What are you doing here?" She set her old friend down, shoving her to arm's length, hands lingering on her shoulders.
Fay mustered a grin, still holding the file. She was dressed in a baby-blue suit, skirt nearly to her knees but not covering the brace. Her hair was the usual untamable mass of curls and frizz, and her eyes were still bright. "Rolling with the punches, girlfriend, you know how it is." She groaned for affect, pointing the file at the brace. "Medically discharged from the military, so here I am."
"Oh, man, what happened? Don't tell me you fell down the stairs in your house again."
"Thank you for that vote of confidence." Fay snorted. "Ice skating."
"That would have been my next guess." Fara was amused. "I even bet you somehow got them to list it as an on-duty injury."
"I was on duty!"
"Right, right. That sucks regardless, you were a damn good pilot."
Fay smiled, returning the file to its place in the cabinet. "I actually had you down as a reference on my resume, maybe that's what got me in."
"Possibly, I know a lot of people in this company. Which is impressive considering I'm just a test pilot." Fara snorted, sitting on Fay's desk, crossing her legs at the knee.
"Hey, you're growing out your hair!"
Her hand flew up automatically, touching the tiny ponytail. It'd just recently become long enough to pull back, thankfully, it had been getting in her eyes. "Heh, yeah, finally decided to try it out. Mostly it's pissed me off so far."
"Oh come on!" Fay snorted, walking over and briskly yanking out the ponytail, rearranging Fara's hair. Fara would have protested, but she was being pleasantly smothered by perfume again. She made a note to ask Fay where she bought it. "Nice, feels manageable too, unlike my hair. You should dye it!"
"Yeah, strawberry streaks or something!" Fay nodded cheerfully.
Both girls jumped and looked at the doorway leading into Engineering, which is where Beltino was now leaning, arms crossed and eyebrows lifted. Fay blinked at him and belatedly removed her hands from Fara's head. "I will assume that introductions are unnecessary eh?"
"She was in my basic training class, Beltino." Fara explained.
"Ah. Well, show her the ropes will you please? Usual warnings apply." And with that he was gone, lab coat fluttering.
"Warnings?" Fay asked.
"Yeah, to the style of 'department full of lonely engineers, please do not wear short skirts.'" Fara smiled at her. "Don't worry, girl, you're in good hands here. Come on, I'll show you around."
Twenty minutes later they were standing in the cafeteria, Fara drinking a soda, Fay halfway through a cup of chai tea, Fara pointing out people as they wandered in and out. Fara knew most of the company, because she was one of a vast minority simply because she was female and young.
"So, tell me something." Fay glanced at her. "Why the sudden decision to grow your hair out? You've always been such a tomboy!"
Fara winced, turning the bottle in her hands and looking down at herself. Hell, even now, that opinion seemed about right. She was in boy-cut jeans and a polo she'd swiped from Falco months ago, which she tucked in. And, from sheer habit, her jeans were bloused into her combat boots. "It's a long story."
"Aw, come on."
Hearing the door open, Fara looked up, and marveled at the timing. She elbowed Fay and pointed at the door. "That's why, sister."
Fay looked, and blinked. She recognized Fox of course, and wove back at him as Fara did, but who she didn't recognize was the vixen who strolled next to Fox. The fur was what hit her first, intense blue, and then the figure. Wow. "Lord almighty! Who is the babe?"
"Krystal something-or-other, came out of nowhere after one of Fox's missions, now is calling herself a pilot and good enough for Star Fox. Amazing, as when I first met her she was still learning our language." Fara snorted, taking a drink, then started fiddling with the bottle again. "Immediately started trying to wrap Fox around her pinky finger. She hasn't managed to yet, but I just felt pale in comparison."
"Girl, he likes you because you're as tough as he is." Fay punched her shoulder. "Besides, it's only a matter of time before she finds out about his tastes if you know what I mean."
"Yeah, yeah." She rolled her eyes, leading the way over to join Fox at the table he usually commandeered. She'd found out the hard way herself about Fox's tastes herself. It was infuriating, in a way. Fox was hot, had a sculpted body, and could practically drip machismo, but the first time she'd gone to kiss him he'd held up his hand between him and explained very gently that he was bi, and really did prefer guys. And had been in an on-again, off-again thing with Falco for ages. How Krystal didn't know about this, Fara had no idea. "Hey, dudes and dudette."
"Fara! How are you girl?" Fox stood to give her a bearhug, popping most of her back. "Who's your friend?"
"Everyone, this is Fay Dog. She was in my basic training classes ages ago, works for ArSpace nowadays."
"Oh! I remember you now!" Fox shook her hand, smiling.
"About time they hired some more chicks, you an engineer?" Krystal asked, briskly shaking Fay's hand.
"Hah, no, just a secretary more or less." She managed a smile, wondering where Krystal had gotten a flightsuit with a low-cut neckline. "What brings you folks here anyway?"
"We check in monthly." Falco said. "Get routine maintenance done if needed, see what new stuff is being worked on that they're willing to talk about, that sort of thing. And Slippy likes the excuse to see his dad."
Fara checked a clock, and sighed. "We have to go listen to the president drone on for a while, guys, see you afterwards?"
Fara led Fay out of the cafeteria, ambling across the sprawling building toward the meeting hall. "Can you see why I don't like her much?" She asked, glancing at Fay.
"She obviously thinks very highly of herself. Wonder how long it'll be until someone pops that ego of hers." Fay said thoughtfully.
"I'm considering doing so myself." Fara grinned.
Fay thought about that, then grinned satanically. "Well if you're going to do that, girlfriend, I have some ideas on how we can do so…"
Later on, Fara would consider the fact that she should have asked what Fay was thinking, let alone what she was planning on doing. Not that it mattered, she approved of Fay's style.
After being bored for hours by the CEO, they went back to the cafeteria, a brief stop-by on the way to their desks, and that quickly Fay's devious plans went into action. "Hey, Falco. Pardon the odd question, but are you still on the club scene?" She said this with a cheerful curiosity, leaning her elbows on the table and looking at Falco as she spoke to him.
"Yeah, when I can be." Falco looked surprised. "Why do you ask?"
"Have you been to the Metronome yet?"
"No, no I have not. Is it new?"
"Yeah, opened up about a month ago, here… just a sec…" She dug into her purse and eventually came out with a piece of paper, passing it over to him. "Directions, I've got them memorized. Take Fox with you!"
Fox nearly spit soda across the table. "Take ME? I'm not so much into clubs."
"You'll like this one." She grinned at Fox cheerfully. "Trust me."
Fox looked back, and somehow, knew what she was thinking. Fara looked between the two, totally confused. "Alright then. Thanks for the recommendation."
"Yeah, no kidding. Always happy to scope out a new club." Falco smiled, folding the directions into his wallet.
"A dance club?" Krystal asked, tilting her head to one side slightly. "Very nice, may I come along?"
Fay smiled at her gently. "Not your kind of place, hun."
"Just trust me, it's not."
"Punk or something? They're not into that either…" She trailed out as she gestured at Fox and Falco.
"Well, no, it's not that."
Falco grinned and leaned on the table, looking at Krystal around Fox. "What she's trying to say without saying, Krystal, is she just gave me the address of a gay club. And you are so straight, it's not even funny."
Krystal recoiled so hard she nearly knocked herself out of her chair. "WHAT? But why… aren't you…?"
Fox looked at Slippy and Peppy, who shrugged at him in unison: they both knew about what went on between Falco and Fox, had known about it for ages. Fox shrugged back, then shifted so he sat in Falco's lap, staring at Krystal with a smug smile. "Answer all your sputtered little questions?"
"Too bad. Look, Krystal, we know all about the deal you cut with the government. We can't deny it's good for us, as their way of paying us is matching our payments made on the Great Fox. But leveraging ambassadors in return for our government getting you in with us? Give it up." Fox gestured at Fara. "That girl there could take you out of the sky so fast, you'd get knocked into last week."
Fara blushed, but grinned happily at Fox. "Thanks, man."
"No problem. Krystal, what I'm saying is, stay on the team all you like. I won't stop you. But you have to quit trying to flirt with me. I'm immune." Fox looped his arms around Falco's neck contentedly.
Krystal shrieked in disgust and stomped out of the room, ranting the entire way.
Falco burst into laughter, looking around Fox to look at Fay. "Girl, you got some brass balls for a chick. Did Fara put you up to that?"
"She had less then savory things to say about Krystal. I had a quick fix." Fay smiled at him. "I'll admit, Krystal's easy on the eyes, but if she wants to run with you guys she needs some brains to match."
"I hear THAT." Slippy said from down the table. "I've been keeping of list of things she's broken and damaged on the Great Fox."
"She just humors me." Peppy said dryly. "She seems to think I'm far past my prime, which I don't appreciate."
"Even if you are, old man."
"Fuck you, Falco."
Fay laughed and stood. "It's been fun gentlemen, but Fara and I should probably get some work done today."
Fara looked at a clock and stood. "No kidding. See you guys later eh?"
"Actually, why not meet us at the Metronome? I imagine Falco and I will be there this Friday night or something." Fox suddenly said, looking back and forth between Fay and Fara. "You've been there, right Fay? You can show us around if need be."
"I'd be glad to." Fay smiled.
"I'm flattered, but why invite me? I'm not gay." Fara blinked, torn between how fun that sounded and the fact that she'd get to suffer again with the fact that she couldn't have Fox.
"But you don't mind us folks either. Come on, it'll be fun." Fox wheedled.
"Ugh, ok. Fine. See you guys Friday."
"I'll call you."