Prompt: I think it would be cute to see Dex try and ride Sloane when he’s in Felid form and just general play. Maybe Dex buys cat toys without telling Sloane and then pulls them out to play with.
It was almost time.
Dex rubbed his hands together in gleeful anticipation.
“How’d you convince Maddock to give his permission for this?” Calvin asked, securing one of the hatches.
Dex surveyed the area. That was the final one. “Easy, I told him Shelley’s Market needed our help, and he agreed.”
“They’re this little family owned market that’s been around for generations. Anyway, they have this amazing little bakery at the back that makes fresh pies. My dad used to drag Tony in there all the time.” Dex smiled wistfully. “Apparently, my dad’s stomach was as bottomless as mine.”
Calvin chuckled. “So you’re helping Shelley’s Market out by buying all the leftover stock?”
“Yep, and everyone’s going to freaking love it. You’ll see. Even Austen showed up for this.” He patted Calvin’s arm before he headed for the gate to let in their Unit Alpha teammates who had all shifted into their Therian forms. Dex had put together the signup, specifying some Therian shenanigans. Thanksgiving was over, and not all agents got to spend it with their friends and family. The holidays were especiallt tough for some Therian agents, whether it was because they were out on the streets trying to keep everyone safe, or because they were reminded of the families they’d lost for simply being Therian.
The THIRDS canteen offered an amazing Thanksgiving spread all week, and invited agents to have their own gettogethers. Not everyone was as lucky as Dex, and he made sure to never forget it. So it became his tradition to lighten the mood, and involve his fellow team members in various shenanigans. Sloane had been skeptical at first, but after last year’s event went so well, he realized how right Dex was.
“You really think Sloane and Ash are going to join in?”
Dex grinned wide. “Oh, ye of little faith.” He’d booked the outdoor training area for the evening since it was less likely to be in use, and Shelley’s Market had dropped off the goods an hour ago. Calvin and the girls helped Dex set everything up before the girls went off to help their Therian teammates with their shifting out back. Now it was time. He climbed the ladder to the instructor’s platform along with Calvin.
“Best seats in the house,” Dex said, stepping up to the console, and pressing one of the buttons. “Pete, you ready?”
The speakers came to life, and Pete’s gruff voice came through loud and clear. “Ready, Dex.”
“Okay, let them in.”
A buzzer sounded, a red light flashed, and the half a dozen steel gates opened. Therian agents in their feral forms came flooding through. Dex wriggled his eyebrows at Calvin.
“Lions, and tigers, and jaguars, oh my!”
“You’re such a dork,” Calvin said through a laugh.
There were about two hundred agents in attendance, a mixture of Felid Therians, wolf Therians, and bear Therians. Dex spotted his teammates right away. He leaned forward and spoke into the microphone.
“You guys ready?”
A cacophony of roars, hisses, howls, and chirps echoed through the massive indoor field. It was almost as big as a football stadium. Around the walls, six ramps led up to six hatches. Dex pressed the button for Pete again.
“Okay, Pete. Let her rip. And make sure Al’s recording this.”
“Got it,” Pete replied. An even louder buzzer than the previous one blared, red lights flashing before the hatches opened, and hundreds of pumpkins came speeding down the platforms. It was sweet pandemonium. The moment they hit the grass, everyone was off. It was the funniest shit he’d ever seen in his life. The tiger Therian agents were so freaking adorable it hurt. Both Seb and Hobbs had each sunk their fangs into a pumpkin and were currently trotting around the ring, pumpkins displayed proudly, tails raised high. Ash’s mane swishing caught Dex’s eye, and he laughed as Ash batted a pumpkin with his paws like he was playing soccer. Cael and Hudson were too cute, pouncing and swatting a smaller pumpkin to each other as if it were a ball. Cael chirped, and Hudson released a series of bark/howls.
Dex had never seen so many pouncing Felids in all his life. Everyone was enjoying themselves, swatting, pouncing, dashing here and there. Everyone except Sloane.
Calvin looked at Dex worriedly. “Why’s Sloane sitting there looking so miserable?”
“I don’t know.” Dex climbed down the ladder, and jogged over to his grumpy jaguar Therian boyfriend who looked even grumpier than usual. “Hey, babe. Why aren’t you playing?”
Sloane looked up at him, his big amber eyes bright. He groaned before getting up and rubbing his head against Dex’s legs. Dex crouched down and gave Sloane a good scratch behind his ears and under his chin. “Come on, talk to me. What’s wrong?”
Sloane got up. He padded over to a small pumpkin and gingerly smacked it with his paw until it rolled over to Dex and hit his boot. Then Sloane sat on his haunches and looked up at Dex expectantly. Dex blinked at him.
“You want me to play with you?”
Sloane shut his eyes and opened his mouth, and Dex was suddenly stupidly happy. He dropped to his knees and threw his arms around Sloane, hugging him.
“Aw, you’re such a big softie.”
Sloane huffed, and licked the side of Dex’s face, making him laugh.
“That was gross. Thanks.” He got to his feet and readied his stance. Sloane lowered his head, his tail twitching.
Dex gasped, and pointed behind Sloane. “Holy crap!”
Sloane’s head shot up and he turned.
“Sucker!” Dex grabbed the small pumpkin and took off, laughing at Sloane’s annoyed growl. “I can’t believe you fell for that!” Dex tossed the pumpkin on the grass, and kicked it with his boot, doing his best to keep it away from Sloane who bounded up to him, jumping and pouncing, trying to swat at the wobbly orange vegetable. Sloane played dirty, trying to trip Dex up, at one point succeeding. Dex landed on his ass. He made a leap for Sloane before Sloane could sink his fangs into the pumpkin and run off with it. Unfortunately, in Dex’s desperate attempt to stop Sloane, he made the mistake of grabbing Sloane’s tail. He was lightning quick, twisting his body and smacking Dex upside the head with his paw.
“Ouch, man!” Dex laughed. He scrambled to his feet and dove for the pumpkin, curling himself around it. Sloane tried to shove his muzzle under Dex’s armpit, and Dex broke off into laughter. “That’s not fair. You know I’m ticklish.”
Sloane ignored him, poking Dex with his muzzle before he licked Dex up the side of his face with his sandpapery tongue.
“Right in the ear!” Dex wiped his ear with his sleeve, and Sloane swiftly batted the pumpkin out from under Dex. He tried to reach Sloane before Sloane plunged his fangs into the veggie, but it was too late. For Sloane, it was like biting into an apple. He picked up his pumpkin and darted off. “Come back here!”
Sloane ignored him, and Dex chased Sloane around the grassy pitch, doing his best not to run into any Felids. Austen zoomed past him, a pumpkin in his mouth, and Dex was forced to skid to a halt just as Zach loped past. Holy shit. He’d almost smacked into three hundred pounds of furry brown bear. That would not have been pleasant.
“You get him, Zach!” Dex took off after Sloane again, and spotted Calvin rolling around the grass with Hobbs. Rosa was cursing Ash out as she chased him. Something about him stealing her pumpkin and being a greedy bastard. That was when Dex noticed Ash had somehow managed to get his jaws around two small pumpkins. Letty, of course, was laughing her ass off.
Two hours later, and Dex lay on his back in the grass panting. “Oh my God, I can’t move. I’m done.” Dex flopped his hand in the general direction of the gate. “Babe, I think I need you to carry me.”
Calvin dropped down next to him with a chuckle. “How is Sloane going to carry you? It’s not like you can ride him like a pony.”
“Tried that. It was a very painful experience.”
“Oh, shit! You didn’t!” Calvin fell onto his side he was laughing so hard.
“Did you know that jaguar Therians weigh a fucking ton, and therefore when they land on you it hurts like hell? He grabbed my boot with his jaws, threw himself onto his side, and landed on me. I thought I broke a rib, but no, just hurt like I did. I would not recommend it.”
Calvin was wheezing. “Like… I would be… that stupid.”
“Thanks. Sloane, pleeease.”
“This I gotta see,” Calvin rolled onto his side, and propped himself on his elbow.
Dex closed his legs, putting his boots together, and Sloane gently slipped his fangs under Dex’s laces and pulled.
“You’ve got to be shitting me.”
Dex sat up and held onto his legs, though not before waving at Calvin over his shoulder. “See ya, bud.”
“Seriously? You have your boyfriend dragging you?”
“Hey, he’s a jaguar Therian remember? It’s good practice for him. He can drag Seb and Zach at the same time if he had to. I’m a piece of cake. It’s like sledding. Except you’re the sled. And you’re on grass.”
“That is the epitome of laziness.”
Dex shook his head. “Don’t knock it till you try it.” Sloane let out a grunt, and Dex chuckled. “You know, they should make this a sporting event.” He gasped. “Holy shit, we should totally make this a sporting event!”
Sloane let go, and stared at him.
With a flick of his tail, Sloane sauntered off.
“Hey, where are you going?”
Sloane ignored him, and Dex whined. “But the door is still so far away!” With a groan, he pushed himself to his feet, and lumbered toward the door. Letty came skipping over, and hooked Dex’s arm in hers.
“This was so much fun, Dex.” She leaned her head against his arm as they walked.
Dex couldn’t help his wicked grin. “Wait until you hear about my idea for next year.”
Copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press