Bugs and Hisses Flash Fiction
THIRDS Sweets, Treats, and Space Princesses by Charlie Cochet
This was going to be so much fun!
Dex was practically bouncing with excitement. Or it could be the five chocolate bars he’d inhaled over the last ten minutes. This was his first year participating in the THIRDS annual Halloween charity funfair.
Every year five squads would be chosen at random to help oversee the activities and manage the crowds. This year Destructive Delta was up, and costumes had been selected for each partnership using the very sophisticated method of scribbled names on a piece of paper thrown into a helmet and chosen at random.
The Princess Leia bra had been more of a challenge to get into than Dex had anticipated, but Letty and Rosa had come through for him, though not before Letty threatened to shoot the thing several times.
Assisting with the funfair was the highlight of Dex’s month, and not just because his boyfriend was dressed as Han Solo, complete with snug pants and a pair of black knee high boots that Dex had every intention of making Sloane keep, but because there were rides, games, and lots of yummy food. Lots of yummy food with copious amounts of sugar. Real sugar.
Their sergeant walked by wearing his purple MC Hammer parachute pants and Dex erupted into peals of laughter. The costume—which wasn’t a costume at all but actually a part of his dad’s wardrobe at one time—came complete with yellow and black cropped jacket. It couldn’t get any better than that. At least until Ash stomped out of their team’s tent dressed like the Cowardly Lion.
“I just want to go on the record saying this is bullshit and I never agreed to this,” Ash growled.
Dex was laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe, and Sloane was at his side patting his back, telling him to breathe before he ended up passing out.
Tony didn’t bother looking up from his tablet. “Your complaint has been heard and ignored, Keeler.”
“But why couldn’t we pick our own costumes?” The more Ash glowered at Dex, the harder Dex laughed. Seeing Cael dressed up like Dorothy had been hilarious, but his brother just looked as adorable as always. It had taken days for Dex to pick a costume after he’d drawn Ash’s name. The possibilities had been endless, but he had to take Letty into consideration. So he’d cheated a little after Sloane had plucked Cael’s name from the helmet.
Between the two of them, they decided on Cael as Dorothy, Ash as the Cowardly Lion, Rosa as the Scarecrow, and Letty as the Tin Man. Rosa hadn’t been impressed by their choice, but she’d gotten her own back when she’d plucked Dex’s name and decided on his current somewhat drafty costume.
Ash glared at his floppy lion tail so hard Dex thought it might spontaneously combust at any moment. “Come on, Sarge.”
“Suck it up, Keeler.” Tony was having none of it. If he had to suffer, so did the rest of them.
“Guess you’re just too legit to quit,” Ash said with a snort.
Tony glanced up, one eyebrow arched. “You want to be smothered up in these pants, son? Because I will do it.” With no further protest coming from Ash, Tony scrolled through his tablet. “All right. You all have your assignments, now get lost. Dex, get Sloane his first round of candy. Sloane, make sure you get two sealed bags.”
“What genius put Daley in charge of the candy run?” Ash asked, shaking his head in disbelief, making his fake furry mane swish. Dex couldn’t help snicker.
“PR,” Tony grumbled. “When they go over budget it’ll be their own fault.”
Dex spotted Calvin in his red with black stripe shirt, black jeans, and red converse heading toward them. He was holding onto Hobb’s tail, and as soon as Calvin and Hobbs reached them, Calvin flipped Ash off. Ash cackled. He hadn’t been able to resist himself after drawing Calvin’s name.
“You two look so adorable,” Ash said, grinning wickedly.
Hobbs hissed at Ash. Their tabby tiger Therian friend was clearly not as amused as Ash was.
“All right, that’s everyone. Letty and Rosa are actually getting work done, so you six get lost.” With that Tony was off. Dex turned when Sloane took hold of his wrist. He placed a kiss to the top of his head and subtly trailed a finger up Dex’s spine. He could feel the tingle through the skin-tight, skin-colored long sleeved T-shirt under his princess bra.
“Tell me again why you couldn’t wear a jacket or something?”
Dex gasped in mock horror. “And ruin the authenticity of my costume? You know me better than that.” The only reason he was wearing the skin-tight T-shirt underneath was so he wouldn’t get too cold.
“You’re half naked,” Sloane grumbled. “There are a lot of people here.”
“By people you mean….”
“There are a lot of guys checking you out.”
Dex turned with a big smile. “Doesn’t matter. You’re the one I go home to every night.”
“Aw, but seriously. Letty will give you her silver jacket if you want it. Last I heard she was about to strangle Rosa with it.”
“Ha! I’d pay to see that go down. Nice try, sexy-pants.”
With a huff, Sloane pulled Dex in for a kiss. “Fine. But if you change your mind, you tell me. I’ll see you soon?”
“Promise.” With a wink Dex made his way to the tent holding all the candy for the various bowls around the park. PR really didn’t know what they were getting into when they put him in charge of the candy. His assignment was supposed to keep him out of trouble. Those poor souls.
Just as he reached the large tent, he heard sniffling. Pausing, he listened. It was hard to hear anything over the laugher, chatting, and screams coming from the rides and haunted houses, but he heard it. Faint and soft.
Rounding the corner, he found a little cheetah Therian boy in a Star Lord T-shirt, a pink puffy tutu over jeans, and Converse sneakers. Big fat tears rolled down his pink cheeks. His blond hair was sticking up in all directions around his tiara. He was the cutest thing Dex had ever seen, and couldn’t be any more than six years old, maybe seven considering he was a cheetah Therian. Dex waved as he approached so he wouldn’t frighten him. The lanyard around Dex’s neck stated he was a THIRDS agent, and when the little boy saw it, his crying turned into sniffles and hiccups.
“What’s the matter, buddy?” Dex asked, kneeling down in front of his new friend.
“They said… I can’t… fight… the space monsters because… I’m too little.” The boy pointed off behind him at the Space Invasion ride. It was a moving ride with laser guns attached to each “ship”. Aliens popped up all over and the aim was to shoot as many as possible. He and Cael had kicked butt at it when they were kids.
“Then… my brother Ronnie says princesses can’t fight, but… I’m a space princess, I can too fight.”
“Hey, I’m also a space princess,” Dex said cheerfully. “I’m Dex.”
The little boy gazed at Dex with wide blue eyes before a smile stretched from ear to ear. “I’m Alex. I like your dress.”
“Thanks. I like your tutu.” Dex held out his hand, his smile wide. “How about we go in there and kick some alien butt?”
“Yeah!” Alex skipped along beside him, his hand in Dex’s as they made their way over to the Space Invasion ride. At that moment Alex’s brother Ronnie approached with his friends, all laughing, joking, and roughhousing. There was a small group, ranging from maybe ten to twelve years old. Ronnie looked about twelve. When he noticed his little brother, he rolled his big brown eyes.
“Alex, you’re too little. Go back to the kiddie rides with mom and Lenny.”
Alex shook his head, his expression determined. “Princesses do too fight, and we’re going to kick your butt.”
Ronnie and his friends looked Dex over, their eyes wide. They noticed his badge and he received several deep frowns.
“That’s cheating,” one of them whined. “He’s a THIRDS agent.”
“Actually,” Dex corrected, “today I’m a princess. Though technically I’m a princess agent.”
Ronnie rolled his eyes. “Whatever. There’s lots of us and one and a half of you, so we’re still going to get more aliens.”
Dex let out a snort. “Yeah, I don’t think so. I was Duck Hunt champion of my school three years in a row.”
He was met with blank stares.
“Duck Hunt? You know, Nintendo game where you shoot the ducks flying out of the bushes?”
More blank stares.
“I weep for your generation.”
Inside the ride, he and Alex climbed into one of the spaceships and each manned their space zapper. The ride was as much for teens and adults as it was for kids, so there were plenty of monsters to shoot at, some moving quicker than others, and all with green dots on them that would turn red when hit. Ronnie and his friends were in the two spaceships in front of them, but even so, Dex put his Duck Hunt skills to use. And his law enforcement training of course.
By the time they reached the end of the ride, Alex and Dex had beaten Ronnie and his crew by twenty three aliens. Dex had missed some on purpose. He hadn’t wanted to make Ronnie and his friends feel too bad about losing. Dex carried Alex out of the ride since Alex had gotten a little scared by the dark tunnel with stars. Outside Dex spotted Sloane waiting for him.
“What happened to the candy?” Sloane asked, his eyes narrowed. “You didn’t eat it, did you?”
“No, I was helping my pal Alex beat some space monsters.” He walked over to Sloane and gave him a wink. “Sloane, this is Alex, fiercest space princess in all the galaxy.” He subtly motioned over to the group of bigger boys.
Sloane blinked in surprise before turning his attention to Alex and smiling warmly. He bowed regally, making Alex giggle. “It’s an honor, your majesty.”
“Princess Alex, this is my space prince Sloane Brodie.”
All the kids looked up at Sloane, mouths hanging open. His sexy boyfriend was big to average sized Therians, Dex could only imagine what Sloane looked like to the tiny ones. Even larger and more imposing. Dex put Alex down and Sloane kneeled. He put his fist over his heart.
“Thank you for keeping my princess safe.”
Alex bowed before patting Sloane’s head. “You’re welcome.”
Dex and Sloane said their goodbyes as Ronnie and all his friends made a fuss over Princess Alex who’d guarded the fierce jaguar Therian’s princess. It was more likely that Ronnie and his friends were impressed at Alex’s association with a THIRDS agent like Sloane. The guy was impressive. Didn’t matter that he was out of uniform. He just had a way of drawing attention.
“Thanks for that,” Dex said, slipping his hand into Sloane’s. His boyfriend was not good with kids. It wasn’t that he didn’t like them, but more that he had no idea what to do with them. He was also slightly terrified by them, but whenever he was needed, he was always there, putting aside his insecurities to help any way he could.
Sloane smiled down at him, his amber eyes sparkling. “Anything for you, princess.” He squeezed Dex’s hand, and Dex couldn’t help himself. He pulled Sloane behind the candy tent for a kiss. It was sweet, warm, and full of love.
“What was that for?” Sloane asked, nuzzling Dex’s temple.
“For you just being you.”
“Are you sure you didn’t eat a whole bag of candy?” Sloane teased.
Dex laughed and threw his arms around Sloane’s neck. “Just kiss me.”
Around them folks were walking around in all kinds of costumes. Kids ran around, squealing with delight as they ate candy and headed for the next ride. Some agents were in their Therians forms, from cheetahs to bears. Despite the music, the squeals, the noise, the somewhat organized chaos, and laughter, there was just him and his space prince. What more could he ask for? Except maybe a chocolate bar, or five.