>>TOMBOI — PART THREE::
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.
"Seriously though, thank you SO much for showing us that place!"
Falco leaned his head on his hand and pondered his coffee cup. "Fox…"
"I mean, I don't usually go clubbing let alone dance, but…"
"… and the idea of breakfast afterward! Man I haven't done an all-nighter in ages…"
"That's IT, no more coffee for you!"
Fay and Fara both leaned back in their chairs and laughed as Falco grabbed Fox's coffee cup and held it as far away from Fox as he could. Fox protested vainly and lunged for it, ending up in Falco's lap and at one point over Falco's shoulder as he tried to grab for his caffeine supply. Everyone else in the pancake house was staring in bewilderment at this scene. Of course everyone had been staring anyway.
Eventually Fox settled down and pouted, crossing his arms. Falco gave Fox's now mostly-empty coffee cup to a waitress and apologized for the spilling, then turned back to Fox. "Dude, it's going to be impossible to get you into bed as it is. You've had enough coffee to overdose a rhino."
"No I haven't." Fox said, tapping a foot hard and fast enough to shake the table.
Fay and Fara giggled. "Sorry, man, we're on Falco's side. You're totally zoomed." Fara said, pondering her menu.
"Yeah, man, how much coffee have you had?" Fay asked, sipping her own mug.
Fox counted on his fingers for a moment, then shrugged. "I know I had two cups before going to the club… and an entire Jolt while I was there… after that, I lost track."
"He's not sleeping anytime soon, Falco." Fara said wisely. "Trust me, I saw him do these caffeine jags at the Academy."
"So have I, which is what worries me." Falco sighed, tossing his menu down.
Fox wove down a waitress, and the four ordered, everyone else and the waitress preventing Fox from having more caffeine. He pouted some more but dealt with it.
"I will agree with him on one point, last night was pretty fun. We need to go out as a group more often." Falco took a drink of his soda.
"Agreed." Fay grinned. "And glad you liked the place."
"Nice way of suggesting it too. Hey, did anyone see Krystal there? I had a bet with Slippy on whether or not she'd show up just to yell at us." Fox said, stacking syrup containers for no reason. Fara added on with the salt and pepper shakers.
"I didn't." Falco shook his head. "And she's anything but subtle. If she'd been there, she'd have found us and yelled at us."
"This is true." Fara said. "I mean, I never liked her guys. Sorry about that… I mean she always made me feel pale and, well, flat."
"Bah. No matter what she says, you and Fay are more what women should be like. Kicking ass and taking names, using skill instead of cleavage." Fox was now trying to balance the sugar packet holder on top of the stack. Nearby tables were staring again.
"Coming from you, that's a high compliment." Fay smiled.
Things were quiet for a bit, besides aimless discussion and a brief scramble when Fox's foot-tapping knocked over the tower of stuff. Luckily, no syrup ended up on the floor. The group was also reasonably quiet as they ate, finally winding down except for Fox, whose jitters were quieted by one of Falco's boots lacing over his and holding the leg in place and still.
It wasn't until a complete stranger wandered over that talk started again. The stranger was actually one of the restaurant managers, and Fox immediately started apologizing for the royal mess he'd made lunging for his coffee. The manager wove it off, looking at the newspaper he held. "This may seem rather odd, but I just wanted to say that you guys made the newspaper."
"Really? Dare I ask why?" Falco seemed surprised.
The manager handed Falco the newspaper, pointing at the article running across the top, not the main story but still frontpage, of the metro section. "I thought you would want to know about it… it's not friendly press." The manager fidgeted awkwardly. "But for the record, she didn't seem very nice on the news."
"Thank you." Falco said automatically, and the manager left the table.
"What's going on?" Fara asked, finishing one of her pancakes.
Falco was silent, reading, Fox reading over his shoulder. Their expressions matched as they read, first surprise, then shock, then rage. Fox spoke first. " Oh. That fucking. Bitch."
"What's Krystal done now?" Fay wanted to know.
"I love that you assume it's Krystal." Fara looked at her. "You barely know the woman."
"She's spot-on. It's Krystal." Falco said tensely, sitting back. "Listen to this, they're quoting her. 'I'm surprised that you wanted to interview me. This was supposed to be a small announcement, just letting the public know that Star Fox is one pilot down as I'm quitting the team.'" Falco imitated her voice, rather badly but the attitude was right. "Now, I'm fine with that, but get this. They asked her the reason she quit. 'To be frank, it was just too painful and awkward to stay. I like Fox a lot, however, he doesn't like me very much. Why? Mostly because it's that he's not into the fairer sex…'"
Fox interrupted. "And she goes on to out the both of us completely! To a fucking newspaper, which means that the news stations have it by now, and it's going to be on TV. 'Star Fox members ousted as gay and dating!'" His hands curled into fists, he hid them by hugging himself. "This is just cold. We're honest with her once, and she blabs it to the media!"
"We're not going to be able to go home." Falco tossed the newspaper onto the table, rubbing one of his temples. "Our houses are sure to be staked out by newsvans."
"I can't believe she did this." Fara reached over and picked up the newspaper, looking at the article. "I mean, this is low."
"Why avoid the news? There are rules about them being on private property. Shrug by and say 'no comment.'" Fay said, shoving her plate away.
"Yeah, that won't work." Fox grumbled. "Because 'no comment' is a comment. By refusing to deny it, we'd confirm it. They'd get footage of us going into the same house together, and there you go. The slander would be meticulous and ongoing."
"It won't be much better if you disappear though." Fara sighed. "But, hell, I won't force you to deal with the media, or with sleeping at motels. I've got a guest room at my house; you boys are welcome to it."
"Aw, Fara, you don't have to do that." Falco looked surprised. "Besides, we'd keep you up to all hours and empty your fridge."
"It's a better option then you two getting skeletonized by the media."
Fox fiddled with his drink, muttering. Falco glanced at him and shook his head. "Also my easily embarrassed friend is mumbling about being loud and not wanting you to hear us."
Fara blinked, feeling herself blush a bit as Fay laughed helplessly. "I suppose that is an issue yes." She finally said, bewildered.
"How's this, then? You guys can camp out at her place, and I'll make her grab a change or three of clothing and drag her to my place." Fay said, rubbing her chin with a smile. "That is if you trust them, Fara."
"Of course I trust them!" Fara sputtered. The two boys looked back and forth between them, blinking.
"Then that solves both problems. It'll give them a place to lay low for a few days, and I imagine they've been to your house before so they know how it's laid out and where everything is." Fay sipped her drink. "And if you're at my place, no eavesdropping can occur and you're only about twenty minutes away."
"Sadly, that does make some sense." Falco rubbed the back of his neck. "Is that ok with you Fara? I'm really in no mood to deal with the press."
"I guess that could work." She said finally. "We ready to go? I'm done…"
They wandered out together five minutes later, Fox and Falco ducking being looked at.
"Are you sure you're ok with this? We could just duck at a hotel for a few days."
Fara glanced at Fox, packing a duffel bag for a weekender. "I'm fine with it, Fox. It was completely unfair what Krystal did to you guys." She walked over and gave him a hug. "And hell, if I can help you by helping you hide, I'll do what I can."
Fox sighed, returning the hug. "Thanks girl. It's nice to have someone else to lean on."
"It's what a friend is for." Fara let him go and finished packing, slinging the bag over her shoulder. "I must admit though, I'm a little bit pensive about spending the night, let alone a few nights, at Fay's place."
"You'll be fine, she likes you."
"That's my problem." She admitted, pushing her hair back. "I'm worried I like her."
Fox looked at her for a moment, then smiled, setting a hand gently on one of her cheeks. "Now you know how I felt when I met Falco. It'll work or it won't babe, don't waste time thinking about it because things happen either way."
Fara blushed, but caught his hand and kissed the back of it anyway. "Don't trash my house."
"We won't. I may wear some of your jeans though."
Fara burst into laughter, walking out of the bedroom. "Yeah, like you can fit into them."
Fay smiled when Fara came back into the living room. "All set?"
"Yes indeed, let's get going before I have second thoughts."
Fay giggled, waiting for Fara to hand an extra housekey to Fox, then the two left, going back to Fay's car.
"I don't have a second bedroom." Fay said, unlocking her door and leading Fara into the apartment for the second time in twelve hours. "So either one of us is on the couch, or we'll have to civilly share my bed. It's a queen size, so there is a lot of room."
"Let me think about it." Fara said, dropping her bag and stretching wearily. "I'm still catching up with recent events."
"Ugh, I know. Damn Krystal to hell for doing this to the boys. I mean, I don't know them as well as you do, and I'm pissed about it." Fay sighed, then yawned, stretching. "I'm going to get changed into PJs, I'm exhausted."
"Alright." Fara sat down on the back of her couch and watched her go down the hall, moaning and cupping her face in her hands as soon as the door closed. She hated sleeping on couches, but was rather pensive about sleeping in the same bed as Fay. Fay had always been a flirt, but she'd been even more so tonight. It made Fara question herself, and Fay's motives.
But damn, she was tired. She had been tired at the start of the night, really, now she was just dragging. She couldn't waste energy on debating this right now. After a long moment, she picked up her duffelbag again, waiting for the door to open and mildly surprised by the fact that Fay's pajamas were somewhat normal. She was also back in a kneebrace. "You sleep in that?"
"I didn't wear it last night." Fay grimaced. "Paying the price now."
"It's not your fault, sugar." She wove Fara past, and Fara slipped by and into the bathroom.
By the time Fara left the bathroom, in her pajamas and with her teeth brushed, Fay was curled up on one half the bed, breathing softly. Fara set her bag back down and carefully climbed in on the other side, turning her back to Fay and slowly relaxing. This wasn't how she expected the evening to end, and she felt bad for the boys, but she felt alright with everything.
"Go to sleep."
Falco sighed and rolled over, regarding Fox, who still looked wide awake. "Did you sneak some of Fara's coffee?"
"It's gourmet, she'd have murdered me." He snorted. "And you would have too."
"Mmhm. Now, what did you want to ask?"
"Do you feel bad about commandeering Fara's house?"
"No, not really. We're in her guest bedroom and we've been here before." Falco sighed, caressing Fox's cheek. "I'd rather be at home, but this works."
He sighed. "I still can't believe Krystal did this to us."
"She's an evil manipulating bitch with a sugar topping. We've known that for ages. We probably shouldn't have come out to her."
"At least she won't be flirting with me anymore."
"True, and some good will come out of this I think."
"How do you figure?"
Falco smiled a bit, scratching Fox's chin, which prompted a mild foot-kick. "Fara may actually find out some things about herself. You think?"
"I still don't think she's gay, Falco. She did ask me out."
"I am NOT!"
"You are so. Sorry. And you know what they say about the exception proving the rule." Falco chuckled, pulling Fox into a hug. "At the very least, she'll know to sit down and think about it. Now please go to sleep."
"Sure you can. Shh."
Fox pouted, but fell quiet and nestled into Falco, letting his eyes close.
Fara woke up with a start, staring at Fay's bedroom window. The curtains were partly open, and sunlight streamed in. By the looks it was late afternoon. She sighed and nestled back into the pillow, then froze when she felt the warmth at her back, and the arm resting around her waist. Fay had snuggled in. Even as she lay there, Fay sighed and burrowed farther in, arm tightening and her muzzle burrowing into Fara's neck and shoulder.
"Mn." A cold nose touched her ear, and Fara squeaked, startling Fay awake. "Oh. Morning."
"You're… cuddly in the morning."
"I get cold easy in the night, and you're snuggly. Sorry."
"No offence taken, I was just sort of surprised."
There was a long silence, during which neither really moved. Fara stared at the partly open curtains, feeling sleep overcome her again slowly as Fay's muzzle settled back into the crook of Fara's neck. "You don't mind this?" Fay finally mumbled.
"No. It's just a kind of new experience. I always sleep alone." Fara replied in a distant voice, letting herself become aware of this new thing, this comfortable warmth at her back and the protective hold Fay had on her.
"Now I have to ask. You're a virgin?"
"No one ever wanted me."
Fay jerked and sat up. "Roll over." When Fara didn't respond, Fay sighed and grabbed her shoulder, pulling it so Fara was laying on her back looking up at Fay. "That is SUCH bullshit, Fara. Why the hell would you say that?!"
"Because it's true, ok?" Fara replied in a bitchy, tired voice. "Practically no one asked me out during high school and it wasn't much better at the Academy. Everyone used to talk about me behind my back. I'm plain and I'm practically flat-chested and my ears could be attached to sailboats. I have nosense of style. Military men think I'm a biker dyke and civilian men are afraid of me."
"Oh, Fara…" Fay sighed, shifting to sit straddling Fara's legs, pulling her up and cupping her face. "Look at me. No, seriously, look at me " When Fara finally did, Fay continued. "How long have you been thinking like that?"
"I don't know." Fara's voice was small. "A while. I mean, its girls like Krystal that get all the attention."
"Bullshit. Listen to me very carefully. Yes, you have big graceful ears. You're a fennec fox, girl, there is nothing to be done about it and you'd look damn odd without them. But you know what? It makes people look at your eyes. And you have gorgeous eyes." Fay saw Fara try to move away and held her there. "Yes, no one asked you out. Do you want to know why? Would you like to know the real reason?"
"Everyone thought you were out of their league." When Fara gaped, Fay nodded. "You know me, girl, I listen to everyone. Some people even would come ask me if you were seeing anyone. You're intimidating girl, and in a good way. Those voices behind your back? Admiration, for the most part. How could they say nasty things about you? There would be nothing to say."
Fara blushed and directed her gaze away, feeling tears burn in her eyes and not sure why.
"As for Krystal, psh. All the guys I knew that knew you thought you were awesome girl. Any chick that can run with the big dogs is going to get their respect, you got that and more. They were awestruck by you, and it is more then some neon vixen with silicone boobage is ever going to get."
Fara blinked. "Silicone…?"
"If those are real then I am a German Shepard."
She giggled. "No, that's not my point. How does some tribal priestess get implants?"
Fay let go of Fara's head and rubbed her chin, considering. "You know, that is a good point. Maybe she got them once she came here?"
"I think Fox would have remarked on that to me. 'Oh my god, girlfriend. Krystal went up two cup sizes, I kid you not.'" Fara tittered, then actually laughed when Fay did, letting the tension out. "Was all those things you said true, Fay?"
"To my knowledge? Yes." Fay sighed, cupping Fara's face again. "I don't get how you convinced yourself that no one wanted you. I already told you that you rock Fox's world. You still do. Haven't you noticed how careful he is about touching you?" When Fara stayed silent, she continued. "I want you to do something for me."
"Every morning when you get up, before you do anything else, I want you to walk to a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and say 'I am beautiful.'" Seeing Fara want to protest, she shook her head and set a finger to Fara's lips. "No. I'm serious about this. I want you to tell yourself that you are beautiful. We have got to get you a better self-image, and that is as good a start as any. Do you understand?"
Fara nodded weakly.
"And never, ever think no one wants you. Understand?"
She nodded again, then whimpered and gave Fay a hug. Fay sighed and returned the hug, kissing by one of her ears. "Are we getting up?" Fara finally asked.
"I can sleep more." Fay wiggled loose and laid back down. Fara flopped back down, not surprised when Fay pulled her close, the two basically nose to nose. "Besides, I think you need the security of this."
"What are you, my counselor?"
"No, hun. Just your friend." Fay smiled, pulling Fara closer and wrapping her arms back around her. Fara sighed and slowly began to doze back off. Fay watched her, then leaned in and kissed her softly on the lips. "And would very gladly be your girlfriend, but I can wait." Fay whispered this softly, giving Fara another squeeze. Everything was going to be fine. It might just take a while to work out.