Adrift in Space and Time

Chapter 1

Fighting my way up through the darkness, I heard a voice in the distance.  “He’s coming to…”  “Disconnect the stims.”  “You never cease to amaze me…”  Opening my eyes in confusion all I could see was a blur of light and dark.  “Where am I?  What has happened to me?  Why do I hurt all over, why can’t I see?” I tried to ask, questions coming to my mind in rapid succession, but when I tried to speak no sound came out.  Panicking I tried to jump up, but couldn’t seem to make my muscles work.  “Shh, shh…” a gentle voice reassured me from the darkness “It’s okay, just lie still.  You need to rest now…”

The next time I woke up, the room was dark.  “Hello?” I managed to squeak out in a hoarse voice “Is anyone there?”  Not receiving an answer, I closed my eyes again and tried to piece together what happened to me.  I had been on vacation, camping, I remembered.  I had heard noises, like some animal trying to get into the food I had hung from a tree limb that evening.  I remembered going to find out what was happening, but when I got to where I had hung the food, it was just how I had left things.  No mess, no animals, and no noise.  And then…then what?  I couldn’t remember.  How did I go from a campsite in the woods to lying here in the dark, wherever ‘here’ was…

As I lay mulling over these questions I heard a door slide open off to the side somewhere, the lights coming on at the same time.  “Oh good, you’re awake!” a cheerful voice chimed in from the direction of the door “I thought you might be.  Things were a little touch and go there for a while, but your progress had us hoping you’d make a full recovery.”  “What’s going on?” I asked, sounding about as weak as I felt “What happened to me?”  “We found you adrift in an old derelict ship, you had been kept in medical stasis for a lot longer than it was ever intended to be used for, and consequentially there were a great many side effects which we had to deal with.  Frankly we weren’t sure if you would even survive being brought back out, it was extremely hard on your body.”  “Stasis?  What are you talking about?” I asked in confusion, things making less sense by the minute.  “It’s a very long story.” She replied.  Hearing a chair being rolled over next to me, I managed to focus my vision enough to see the speaker.  Gasping in surprise and fear, I stared at the six foot tall Collie sitting down next to me.

“Calm down, calm down!” she urged, placing a paw on my chest to prevent me from getting up.  Struggling for a minute, it soon became clear to me that I probably wasn’t capable of getting up under my own power at the moment anyway, and reluctantly I settled back down.  “Poor guy.” the Collie sighed “There really isn’t any way to make what I’m about to tell you any easier on you, so I’ll just get it over with.”

“You were kidnapped from your home planet a very long time ago.  We’ll probably never know why, but in the long run it doesn’t matter all that much I guess.  They were apparently keeping you in medical stasis while you were in transport, but something went wrong with their ship, and the crew ended up abandoning it to drift.  That was over a hundred years ago.  We were on a survey mission and picked up the ship’s transponder, and when we came to investigate we found you.”

“Believe it or not, that’s the good news.  About sixty years after you were kidnapped, your species began making preliminary attempts at star travel.  I’m a doctor, not an astrophysicist, so I couldn’t really explain the details, but they managed to accidentally create an artificial gravity well in the middle of the protostar outside the asteroid belt in your solar system.  Within seconds it became a binary system, and completely destroyed your home world.  For what it’s worth I’m sorry.”  “What?” I asked in confusion, staring at her in sort of an apathetic disbelief.  “Don’t worry about it now.” She sighed “All you need to be thinking about is getting your rest so you’ll be able to recover…”  “If I was asleep for a hundred years, then why do I need more sleep?” I asked, beginning to sound a bit grumpy.  “You were in stasis.” The Collie explained patiently “That’s actually quite different from being ‘asleep’…”  Patting me lightly on the cheek, she explained that “I’ve got some things that I need to attend to, and you need your rest, so I’ll leave you alone, and we can talk more later…”  Disappearing out of my view, I heard the door again, and shortly afterwards the lights turned back off.

Staring off into space, I tried to come to grips with things, and, after a great deal of thought I came to the conclusion that there were really only two options.  Either I believed her story in it’s somewhat terse entirety, or else I had completely lost my mind.  Regardless of which it was, I still felt completely exhausted, as if I had run a race or climbed a mountain, and very quickly my mind began to wander until I had once again drifted off to sleep.


I don’t know how long I slept, not having any real sense of what time cycle they used on the ship I found myself on, but when I rather unwillingly found myself returning to wakefulness, the lights were back on, and the Collie I had met earlier was sitting at a desk across the room working intently on some papers.  Yawning a little I idly noticed that instead of being completely naked as I had been when I had gone to sleep, I had somehow acquired what to all appearances was a large white diaper.  “Huh.” I thought aloud “That’s odd…”  “Are you awake?” the Collie stated more than asked as she swiveled her chair around.  “Uh huh.” I nodded, still fixated on my new wardrobe (as it were…).  Seeing the subject of my attention, she began to explain.  “Stasis isn’t intended for long term use, certainly not for as long as a hundred years, and one of the side effects is that you’re suffering from neuromuscular discontinuity.  Basically you don’t have complete control over your muscles, and it will have to be re-learned over time.”  “But what does that have to do with…” I began, only to have her meaning dawn on me “Oh.  I see…”  Sighing, the Collie nodded.  “I really can’t even do much about it.  We don’t know much at all about your species’ physiology, since the first real indication that there was a populated world way out there was the biggest interstellar mistake in the history of charted space.  I’ve done what I’ve had to in order to keep you alive, but it wouldn’t be prudent to risk more than we have to unless it’s truly a matter of life and death.”

“What’s your name?” I wondered, deciding that it would be a good idea to start figuring these things out, no matter how fuzzy my head felt at the moment.  “I’m Medical Officer Ferran, but you can call me Megan if you would like.”  “I’m Nick,” I nodded, forcing myself to sit up enough to offer a handshake (pawshake?) “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”  “Likewise.” She smiled, taking my hand.  “Your paw is soft…” I smiled stupidly, then realizing something changed the subject slightly “How come I feel kind of out of it?  I’m not usually this incoherent…”  “Your body went through a period of significant adjustment after we brought you out of stasis, and I felt it would probably be best for you to be sedated during the process, you’ll probably be feeling the lingering effects of it for the next day or so.”  “Well, as long as I’m not going crazy…” I laughed, lying back down but rolling over so I could watch Megan work.

As Megan was finishing up with her paperwork, the door to the medical bay slid open and a female Arctic fox walked in, gingerly cradling her tail.  “What happened Jess?” Megan inquired with concern as she directed the fox to the bed next to mine.  “I tripped on some junk in my quarters.” Jess grimaced “I guess I managed to fall in about the worst possible way too…”  “Well, we’ll have you fixed up in no time!” Megan declared.  Deciding that the gentlemanly thing to do would be to give them whatever privacy I could, I shifted over to the other direction before Megan started to work.  Before too long, she announced that she was “All done, but you’ll have to stay here for a couple of hours while everything sets up.”  Rolling back over to face the other side of the room, I caught Jess sneaking glances at me.  “Hello.” I nodded cheerfully, causing her to look down in embarrassment at being caught.  To my amusement I distinctly thought I could see her blushing, even through her fur.  “It’s okay.” I laughed, “I’ll give you a ‘get out of embarrassment free’ card since you’re a fellow prisoner of the medical ward.”  Looking back up, I could see her expression relaxing.  “There, see, you’re smiling.  That’s good.  I’m Nick, it’s a pleasure meeting you.  I’d get up and kiss your paw if I wasn’t pretty sure I’d just fall over and make Megan have to get up and shovel me back into bed.”  “Are you usually this talkative?” the fox laughed, already starting to like this strange passenger they had acquired.  “Nope, usually I’m deathly shy.” I replied seriously “But the good doctor has pumped me full of a variety of strange alien meds, a side effect of which, when administered to one with my particular physiological makeup, and I, incidentally, being the only entity left in existence with that particular makeup, has the rather pleasant side effect of making me be unquantifiable verbose.”

Jess, it turned out, was the ship’s Navigations officer, but also served double-duty as the resident astronomer, a task that she found far more satisfying.  She had been head of her class in the academy, and took the job as a navigator on an exploration vessel because of the appeal a ‘life of adventure’ held, despite the fact that my arrival had been about the greatest adventure she had seen so far on her tour of duty.  Astronomy had always been an interest of mine, I had held a fascination for the night sky since I was a child, and listening to her talk was a nice diversion from my present circumstances.  Time passed more quickly than I realized, and after a while Megan disappeared out into the ship, to return with a tray of food.  “Lunchtime!” she exclaimed cheerfully, setting the tray in front of Jess.  Uncovering the tray, Jess revealed an assortment of things that, while I couldn’t specifically identify them, were reminiscent of the food I was familiar with back home.  And, incidentally, smelled absolutely wonderful, reminding me that I’d not had a solid meal in over a hundred years.  “I hate to be a pest, but I wouldn’t mind some of whatever she’s eating…” I suggested to Megan.  “Maybe in a few days.” Megan assured me, walking across the room to return with an oddly shaped glass that looked suspiciously like a larger version of a toddler’s sippy cup “Right now it would be better for you to have something easier to digest.”  Accepting the cup, I sniffed at it suspiciously.  “It’s nutrient slurry…” she explained, seeing my curious look “It’s a full day’s requirement of vitamins and minerals in an easily digested liquid form.”  “You sound like a commercial.” I accused, taking a sip of the drink, then immediately making a sour face.  “That’s really not particularly appetizing.” I complained, tactfully avoiding pointing out that it was probably the worst tasting stuff I’d had in a long while.  “Maybe not, but it’s good for you.” She shrugged, patting me on the shoulder before returning to her paperwork.

As I was doing my best to finish the concoction set before me, I couldn’t help casting envious glances in the direction of Jess’ tray.  “If you finish your drink you can have a couple of bites.” She offered, noticing the unbridled lust directed at her food.  “How about you let me have a couple of bites and I give you the rest of my drink?” I offered with a mocking generosity.  “No.” she replied sternly “Medical Officer Ferran gave you that because it was good for you and would help you get better, so you have to finish it first.”  “Okay.” I sighed “But only to please you.”  “That’s a good boy.”  Deciding that this was to be one of those things best gotten over with quickly, I unscrewed the lid of the cup, then, closing my eyes, upended it, doing my best to choke it all down in one go.  After swallowing the last of it, I grinned triumphantly at Jess, only to be overtaken by a sudden queasiness.  With a look of abject misery, I gently set the cup back on the little table next to my bed before curling up into the fetal position and whimpering quietly.  “Are you okay?” Jess asked, a tinge of concern in her voice as I heard her get up, followed by the scuff of a chair being wheeled across the floor and a soft paw gently stroking my arm.  “I don’t think my tummy liked that stuff…” I sniffed, relaxing a bit at her touch “I think it wants to escape.”  “Poor guy, I guess you shouldn’t have drunk it so quickly.  Why don’t you just try to take a nap?  I’m sure you’ll feel better when you wake up.”  “Okay.” I nodded.  Closing my eyes, I did my best to relax and clear my mind.  Reaching out and taking her paw, I gradually began to drift off to sleep.


Despite the tummy ache I had fallen asleep with, I woke up feeling ravenous.  Opening my eyes I saw that Jess had returned to her bed and was intently reading something from an electronic pad she had gotten from somewhere.  And, to my delight, her leftovers remained on the table between our beds.  “If you’re done, can I have some of that?” I questioned, drawing her attention to her tray.  “Feeling better?” she smiled over at me, placing the pad aside.  “Uh huh.” I nodded “But I’m still hungry, and I would really prefer some solids instead of another one of those milkshakes of death…”  “Well, you did finish your slurry…” she contemplated “I guess it couldn’t hurt anything…”  Rolling a chair over to my bedside, Jess sat down next to me, setting the lunch tray in her lap before looking at me seriously.  “You have to promise to tell me if you start to feel bad again, anything at all, okay?”  “Okay.” I agreed seriously, doing my best to sit up.  “Let’s start you out with something that’s pretty harmless…” Jess mused, scooping up some of the vegetables onto her fork and showing every intention of feeding me herself.  I debated saying something, but quickly decided that solid food on her terms was more important than feigning self-sufficiency…and the fact that I still had little involuntary muscle spasms every now and then probably made it a good idea anyway.  Chewing slowly I savored the flavor and even the texture of solid food, after the drink from earlier even boiled vegetables tasted wonderful.  Grinning at the expression on my face, Jess commented that I “must really be enjoying that…”  “Very much so.” I nodded, accepting another bite, without hesitation this time.

After she was sure that I had been able to eat the vegetables without any ill effects, Jess switched over to some of the leftover meat.  I did my best to eat slowly and not give in to the urge to inhale the entire tray as quickly as possible.  “That’s probably enough.” Jess decided after feeding me about half of her leftover lunch “We don’t want to overdo it the first time, now do we?”  “I guess not.” I agreed a little bit sullenly, eyeing the remaining food.  Laughing cheerfully, Jess playfully tousseled my hair.  “There’s plenty of food in the galley, you’ll get more later, I promise!”  “I’ll take your word for it.” I nodded, snuggling back down into my pillow as she began stroking my hair gently.  As I closed my eyes and began to drift off to a drowsy sort of not-quite-sleep again I thought idly about how quickly I had grown comfortable being around Jess, and how there was something soothing about her presence.

“You’re really pretty.” I mused, my grey eyes looking up into her deep blue ones “Your fur is so fluffy and soft…”  “Thank you.” She laughed “I guess fur is still a pretty new idea for you, isn’t it?”  “Uh huh.” I agreed “But I think it’s something I could get used to pretty quickly!”  “Well, I think that I could get used to having you around pretty quickly too…” Jess declared with mock seriousness.  “That’s good.” I replied, a note of melancholy slipping into my tone of voice “I may be here a while, It’s not like I have anywhere else to go.”  “Poor, poor little one.” She sighed “You’re not totally alone—I’ll be your friend.”  Beginning to sniffle a little, I gratefully slipped into the hug she offered.

Jess was as good as her word, and over the next few days she dropped in to visit me in the medical bay whenever she had some free time.  Before long her visits had become the highlight of my days, listening to her talk about all the things she thought were important for me to know about the world I found myself in, discussing the daily routines that made up life on a starship, or just asking about how her day was going.  Jess was such a patient, caring person that it would be hard to not like her, and we soon became fast friends.  “You’ll be ready to be discharged from the medical bay soon,” she explained during lunch one afternoon “and I was thinking that it would be a good idea for you to share my quarters with me.  They are usually assigned two to a room, but I got lucky this time and happened to get one to myself, so there’s already space available…”  “Besides” she teased “You’re far less disagreeable than the other people I’d probably end up with when they shuffled room assignments to fit you in…”  “I’d like that, if you’re sure it would be okay…” I explained, looking down with embarrassment at the obvious bulge under the one piece hospital jumpsuit I had been given to wear  “Dr. Farran says it may still be quite a while before I…umm…regain complete control of my facilities.”  “I know.” Jess nodded seriously “It’s okay, really.  You’re going to need help from time to time for quite a while, and I think that you’d be more comfortable around someone you know.”  “If you’re sure you don’t mind…” I asked hopefully.  I had really grown fond of Jess during our visits, and found that I was a lot more comfortable around her than most of the people I had known in my old life.  “I’m sure.” She nodded, giving me a hug “So that’s decided.  After my shift is over we’ll see about getting you settled in.”

After Jess left to resume her duties I began to question Dr. Farran about how my leaving the medical bay would work out.  “Well,” she explained “there’s really no reason why you can’t have a bit of autonomy now.  It’s been long enough since I began treating you that if you were going to have an adverse reaction to something it would have happened by now.  You’ll be able to move into the general quarters and spend most of your time in the crew areas, but I’ll still have to have you in here for a while every day to monitor your progress for the time being.”  “That sounds fair enough.” I grinned, happy to be able to spend some time outside of the confines of the medical bay.   “It will be good for you to be able to get some exercise and spend time interacting with the crew.” Dr. Farran agreed.

“About the crew…” I began “Could you give me some idea of what I can expect from them?  I mean, I’ve only had the opportunity to meet you and Jess…”  “There’s really nothing for you to be worried about.” She smiled encouragingly “They’re a rather diverse group, but as a rule are a pretty friendly bunch.  Starships tend to very quickly weed out the disagreeable ones: when people are in such small confines for long periods of time it’s really necessary for everyone to be able to get along with each other.”  “That’s encouraging.” I nodded “I just hope I can manage to not embarrass myself in front of them…”  “I wouldn’t worry about it too much, I think that you’ll find everyone to be pretty understanding.”


Jess returned that evening (to my slight annoyance not in time to spare me from another of Dr. Farran’s concoctions).  “So, are we ready to move into our new room?” she asked cheerfully.  “Yep, but it’ll take me a while to pack  up all my things.” I joked, looking around intently “I think that’s all of it!”  “Be sure to remember to drop back in tomorrow afternoon.” Dr. Farran reminded me “I’d rather not have to track you down and drag you!”  Taking Jess’ arm for support, I followed her out into the hallway.

“The crew quarters are just down the hall a little.” She explained “Ships are designed pretty well, they tend to put all the off-duty spaces in one general area so that you don’t have to walk all the way across the ship to get dinner.”  “That’s good.” I nodded “It’ll keep me from getting too lost too quickly…I’ve no sense of direction to speak of…”  “I’m sure that you’ll pick up the ship’s layout quickly enough.”  Rounding a turn in the hallway we reached a stretch that was lined with neatly spaced doors, much like the hallway in a college dorm.  “This one is ours.” Jess informed me, opening the door and leading me inside.  Flipping on the lights revealed a small but neatly kept room.  The far wall was occupied by a bunk bed while the other had a desk and a nicely overstuffed sofa built in to it, with a row of shelves running from the top of the sofa to the ceiling.  On Jess’ shelves were a neat arrangement of books, knickknacks, and other odds and ends.  Across from this was another doorway, which appeared to lead off into a bathroom.  “Nice.” I commented honestly, settling down onto the sofa.  “The ship’s supplies are pretty much the same as the medical bay’s…I thought you might like something a bit more comfortable to sleep on, so I dug out some of my extra sheets and stuff for you.” She explained, beaming at my smile of appreciation.

“Tomorrow we can go and get you some stuff…you’ll need a personal hygiene kit, another couple of jumpsuits and a pair of boots…”  “You’re making me tired just listening to you!” I laughed as I did my best to get ready for bed while not being entirely steady on my feet, and sore all over to boot.  “You’d think that after a while I would start to feel better.” I mused, as I eyed the bunks, trying to figure out which was mine.  “You can have the bottom bunk.” Jess informed me from the bathroom, neatly foreseeing my conundrum.  My bunk, I noticed, had a huge pillow and some very homey looking blankets, which turned out to be just as cozy as they looked.   Coming out of the bathroom, Jess had donned a flowing robe of some wispy material, which really, at least in my opinion, suited her in a gypsy sort of way.  “Comfy?” she asked, to my surprise leaning down and tucking me in.  “Uh huh.” I nodded, snuggling down into the blankets.  “Good.” She nodded “You’ve a busy day ahead tomorrow, so it’s time for a nice little nap.”  Nodding, I yawned tiredly as she climbed up to her bunk and turned out the lights.  “Nite-nite Nick.”   But I was already sound asleep.

My dreams were wracked with the ghosts of my home, and hopes of a peaceful slumber vanished under the assault of horrible nightmares.  I opened my eyes to find myself walking down the empty and decaying streets of my hometown, passing places that were oh so familiar to me, but instead of their normal comfortable sameness they existed in a muted grey haze.  I passed storefront after storefront, abandoned but for layers of dust and cobwebs: the store where I bought my groceries, the corner gas station where I used to fill up on Mondays,  the places where I rented movies and ate my lunch…all familiar but strangely empty and subdued.  Beginning to feel confused, I quickly cut through the corner lot, eager to reach my home and with it maybe some sense of normalcy.  Fumbling with my keys for a moment, I let myself in the front door, and I could immediately feel the emptiness of the place.  My family was gone, and had been for a long, long time.  “Mom?”  “Dad?” I called, already knowing it would be in vain.  Collapsing onto the sofa, the enormity of my situation finally dawned on me.  I was as alone as one could possibly be.  Beginning to sniffle a little, all I could think of to do was crawl into my bed.  Maybe I could wish it all away.  Maybe if I refused to acknowledge, refused to believe, then somehow I could set things right.  Getting up I hastily started towards my room, but as I moved the scene around me began to fade into nothing.  In utter panic I began to run.  Nothing was understandable any more, nothing made sense—all that I could hope for is to make it to my bed before it was lost forever.  If somehow I could huddle in that comforting softness, at least there would some little thing left to hold on to.  Reaching for my bedroom’s doorknob my hand grasped out…and met nothing.  The last shimmering lines of my world, of my home, disappeared into ethereal smoke.

I woke up then, desperately glad to be anywhere but floating in the blackness.  Sniffling to myself I soon ended up flat out sobbing into my pillow, hoping that I wouldn’t wake up Jess.  “Nick?  Are you okay?” she asked as her head appeared over the edge of her bunk, a concerned expression on her muzzle.  “I had a bad dream.” I shuddered “I was back home but there wasn’t anyone else left and all of a sudden it all started fading away and…and…”  “Poor guy.” She sighed as she swung herself over the edge of her bunk.  “I guess it’s to be expected, but that doesn’t make it any easier, does it?”  Rummaging around on her shelves, Jess produced a large stuffed dog.  “You’ll feel better with something to cuddle.” She explained as she put a paw back on her bunk’s ladder before stopping again.

“You’re wet.”  “Huh?” I mumbled in confusion before seeing what Jess was talking about.  Immediately blushing bright crimson I tried to cover my accident with the sheet.  “No, no, it’s okay, really.” She said soothingly “You’re having a rough night…let’s get you changed and back to bed.”  Nodding in agreement I started to drag myself up out of bed, only to have Jess stop me with a paw on my shoulder.  “I’m not even going to dignify this with an argument.” She said firmly “Just wait here for a minute while I get some things.”  Reddening in embarrassment I watched her retrieve a small gym bag from the bathroom, then lay out a large beach towel on the floor.  “Your turn!” she smiled cheerfully, helping me up out of my bunk.  “Now just lie down here and we’ll get you all taken care of.”  Hesitantly complying with Jess’ instructions, I found myself lying on the floor looking up at the ceiling and doing my best to die of embarrassment before Jess got started.

You can’t die of embarrassment, no matter how badly you might want to.  Hearing Jess unfasten the tabs of the diaper, I suddenly felt a draft in a very personal place.  “Lift up a little bit.” She instructed, sliding the wet diaper out from under me, then, to my absolute mortification began wiping me down with some baby wipes.  “Oh come on, it’s not that bad.” Jess sighed, seeing from my pained expression that I wanted nothing more than to disappear into the cracks between the deck plates.  “There’s really nothing to be embarrassed about.” She assured me “We’re just taking care of a practical necessity like two mature adults…now quit squirming so I can get this fastened up!”  “This is humiliating.” I griped as Jess remembered something and dusted me with baby powder before fastening the diaper’s tapes.  “Why?” she asked, genuinely puzzled.  “Well because I’m…and you are…and…”  “Your people would find this embarrassing.” She summarized with a curious expression on her muzzle.  “What an odd culture…”

Giving me a hug, Jess helped me back into my bunk before climbing up into her own bed.  “Good night Nick…try to get some rest, there’s still quite a while before the day cycle begins.”  “Okay.” I nodded, staring off into the darkness.  With things calm and quieter I found myself taking stock of my situation.  Slowly I began to realize some things.  The diapers really weren’t that bad all things considered, just a whole lot different than what I was used to…and I really didn’t mind Jess’ ministrations either.  I was embarrassed, yes, but on the other hand I felt a whole lot safer, more secure around her than before we had met.  She really was a good friend: caring, and willing to help me with something as personal as my current situation…  In only the few days that I had been here I was already well on my way to making the same number of friends that I had before my misadventures began.  Smiling at that a little bit I drifted off to sleep once again.


Morning dawned with the glow of the cabin lights and the cheerful smile of my roommate.  “Good morning!  How did you sleep last night?”  “Okay I guess.” I shrugged, sitting up and yawning a bit “No more bad dreams, at least not that I remember.”  “Well that’s a step on the road towards recovery.” Jess nodded as I slowly found my way out of bed.  “These things are quite a bit smaller than I’m used to.” I mused, eyeing the bunk bed “It makes it kind of hard to curl up in them.”  “You know, I’ve always thought so too…it’s just that I never really got around to doing anything with the cabin.”  “You can change out the furniture?”  “Pretty extensively actually, it’s all modular and just clips in to mountings on the floor.  After we get breakfast why don’t we go down to the cargo hold and see what they’ve got down there, now that you got me thinking about it, it seems kind of silly that I’ve put up with that bunk bed for this long…”

The dining hall was almost empty upon our arrival, the sole occupant, a badger that looked to be pushing the upper end of middle age, emptying his tray into the trash.  “Hi Diller!” Jen waved “Long shift last night?”  “Yeah.” He nodded tiredly “The power relays for the comm gear were acting up again, took hours for me to get it all sorted out.”  “This is Nick.” Jess said, deciding it would be good to start introducing me to the crew “Nick, this is Diller, our engineer.”  “Hello.” I smiled shyly, shaking his paw.  “So you’re our new passenger.  Welcome aboard.”  “Thanks.” I nodded, beginning to like our gruff but apparently friendly new acquaintance.  “He’s going to be staying with me,” Jess explained “Do you know if there are any extra furnishings down in the cargo bay, we were thinking of rearranging our quarters.”  “There are some bits and pieces down there, but I couldn’t tell you what exactly.  Oh, and while you’re there we salvaged some stuff from the ship we found you on, there may be some things from your home world in there…we thought if you survived coming out of stasis you would probably want anything you could find.”  “Thank you.” I smiled sadly “Anything to remind me would be wonderful…”  “I’m sorry.” Diller sighed, patting me on the back “I can’t even begin to imagine what you must be going through.  Though on the bright side it’s good to have someone living with Jess, she spends too much time by herself, it will be a good change for her and she’s probably the best person you could find to help you adjust to things.”  Seeing her begin to blush again I couldn’t help but laugh a little…Jess really did look cute when she was embarrassed.  “Well, you kits enjoy your breakfast, I’ve got an appointment with a bed…”

After the door slid shut behind Diller, Jess took me over and explained the food dispensers.  They basically functioned like a vending machine from back home, except without money and with a far greater variety of food than I would have guessed.  “I suppose that with all the species that might come on board they would need to stock quite a variety of different things.” I commented while looking over a selection of pastries.  “Uh huh.” Jess nodded, reaching over my shoulder and punching in a number, handing me the bottle of juice the machine produced.  “Nothing complicated until we get permission from Dr. Farran.”  “Awww…” I sighed, following her to a table.  I noticed appreciatively that she had only gotten herself a bottle of juice as well, in solidarity with my dietary restrictions.  Without any real food we both finished our breakfasts pretty quickly and then headed out to look through the cargo bay.

It rapidly came to my attention that while the living quarters were all pretty much located near each other, the cargo bay was decidedly not.  By the time we stood in front of the doors to a cavernous room filled with plastic crates of all sizes I was visibly winded, and to my minor embarrassment I noticed Jess shooting me concerned looks.  “I’m okay, just a little tired.” I explained, doing my best to just wave it off “I guess I’m not quite as recovered as I thought.”  Nodding, she decided that “You should sit down for a little bit while I check the computer to see where everything is…”  Much as I hated to admit it I was in no condition to argue, and made myself as comfortable as one can sitting on a large plastic crate while Jess lent her attention to a computer terminal built in to the wall by the doors.

A little while later she sat down next to me on my crate with a look of satisfaction on her muzzle.  “It turns out that at one point there was a ferret couple assigned to the crew, and they ordered a very cozy bed before they knew they had been reassigned.” Jess explained “I marked it in the computer, so someone with a loader certification will move it over to our room and swap it out for the old one.”  “What kind of bed is it?” I asked curiously, not really knowing what to expect from species-specific furniture design.  “It’s a big pillowy bowl shaped thing, and it’s got some storage cabinets built in to the base.” She explained “Wood grain and green cloth if I remember correctly…”  “Sounds better than the bunk bed.” I shrugged “Did you find the stuff Diller was talking about? The stuff they found with me?”  “Yep, I found that too.” She nodded, giving me a hug “It’s a crate a bit bigger than a storage locker, so we can take it with us now and drop it off in the room on the way to the medical bay.”  “Do you think we could look through it first?” I asked as Jess disappeared between the rows of shelves, to return with a good sized crate on a little wheeled dolly.  “No, we really need to get you in to see Dr. Farran…she only let you out conditionally, remember?  If you’re not diligent with your medical care she’ll make you stay in the clinic until you’re completely healed up, and we don’t want that, now do we?”  “You’re right.” I conceded on the way back down the hall.


Dr. Farran was happy to see that she ‘didn’t have to round up a search party’…apparently she held my memory in little regard (or realized that as a rule I would escape doctor’s visits if at all possible.)  I made a point of jokingly acting offended that she would even consider the prospect of me not coming in for my appointment, all the while casting obvious glances over at Jess, who just smiled indulgently.  There wasn’t a whole lot for Dr. Farran to check, all things considered, so before too long Jess and I were heading back to our cabin to take a look at our mystery box.

While I sat myself down in the middle of the floor, Jess sat cross-legged on my bunk, all the better to watch without being in the way.  Hesitantly I opened the box, to reveal a jumbled collection of odds and ends.  A ring of keys, a handful of small change, a couple of paperback science fiction novels (none of which I had read)…taking things out one by one I set them out around me on the floor.  I found my wallet half way through the pile.  Slipping it back in to my pants pocket it suddenly struck me as a bit odd.  “You know, logically I realize that nothing in there is the least bit useful any more, but it still feels sort of right to have it back in my pocket…”  “Force of habit I guess.” Jess smiled, watching me with interest.  Adding half a pack of cigarettes, a pocket knife, and some other odds and ends to the array of things spreading across the floor, I reached the bottom of the box: a worn and faded leather jacket.  Picking it up, I draped it over my shoulders like a cloak.  It’s brown leather, soft with age and use was comforting…a last smell of home.

Beginning to sniffle a little, I looked across the pile of things on the floor around me.  It seemed like so little was there.  Carefully I put most of the stuff back in the box, I kept the jacket out though, setting it on my bunk.  The paperbacks I set on one of the room’s bookshelves, I would get around to reading them sooner or later and it seemed like a good idea to set them out with the rest of Jess’ books.  I dropped the pocketknife into my jumpsuit pocket, then set the box into the closet.  “You look horrible.” Jess sighed, hopping down from her perch on the bunk to guide me down next to her.  “I feel horrible.” I nodded “I guess it’s not every day that you get to see your entire world reduced to a small box of clutter.”  Taking me in her arms, Jess just held me for a while.  “What is going to happen to me?” I asked in a small voice, suddenly feeling more scared than I had ever felt in my life “I don’t have a home, and I don’t have any currency, and I can’t do anything that would be the least bit useful to anyone here, so I couldn’t even go out and get a job…”  Feeling me start to panic, Jess looked at me with a concerned expression on her muzzle.  “Just try to calm down a little bit Nick.  You’re starting to hyperventilate…we don’t want you to stress yourself any more than you already have.”  “But…” I began, feeling myself slip into a full blown panic.

“Nick, look at me” Jess said, taking my chin in her paw and turning my head so that I was looking into her eyes “It will be okay, I promise.  I won’t let anything bad happen to you.  We can work this all out later, once you’ve healed up and have had time to come to terms with everything that has happened to you in the last couple of days.  But right now I need for you to calm down before you make yourself sick.”  Standing up, she took my hand.  “I think it would be a good idea for us to go down to the infirmary for a while.” She decided, picking up the stuffed dog she had given me the night before and leading me back out into the hallway.


Arriving in the infirmary for the second time today, Jess went to talk with Dr. Farran while I tried to make myself comfortable on one of the beds.  Returning from the other room, Jess pushed a second bed up against mine and climbed up next to me, leaning back against the wall and scooting me up next to her so I was sort of leaning against chest.   “There, that’s a little better, isn’t it?” she asked, putting her arms around me and resting her paws on my chest. “Dr. Farran is going to get you something to help you to calm down, then we’ll take a little nap and see if you feel any better afterwards.”  “I don’t want a shot.” I whined as I saw Dr. Farran appear with a syringe.  “I think you need this.” Dr. Farran said calmly “It will just make you a little bit sleepy, that’s all.”  “And I’ll stay right here with you the whole time.” Jess promised, giving me a little squeeze.  “Okay.” I nodded nervously, gathering up the stuffed dog in my arms as Dr. Farran took my arm.  “Just a little poke.” She told me soothingly “There, that wasn’t so bad!”  “No…” I agreed a bit sullenly as she put a little spot bandage on the small bead of blood welling out of my wrist.

Almost immediately I began to feel a sort of shivery feeling moving from my arm quickly throughout my body.  “What…”  “It will feel a little strange for a bit.” Dr. Farran reassured me, sitting back down at her desk and starting in on a stack of papers.  A little bit later a tremendous sense of drowsiness began to sneak across me.  Feeling my breathing slow and my pulse drift back towards normal I snuggled up to Jess, feeling the soft fur of her arm against my cheek.  Sighing happily, I decided that things weren’t all that bad really, I was getting a little chilly, but Jess was there, and she promised she would stay until I woke back up.  Looking back up at her I grinned a little.  “Love you.”  “Love you too.” She smiled back, gently stroking my hair.  She noticed I still had that little grin when I drifted off to sleep.

As I drowsed peacefully in Jess’ lap, bits and pieces of their conversation floated around in the distance.  “It seems like the two of you have been growing pretty close.” I heard Dr. Farran comment.  “Uh huh.” Came Jess’ reply “I’ve never felt this way about anyone before… He has this sort of innocent confusion about him, it’s really kind of cute in an exasperating sort of way.”  “It’s good to see you finally meeting someone.  Now the crew can quit trying to set you up with eligible males all the time…”  “Yet another fringe benefit!” Jess laughed “No more well meaning intrusions into my personal life.”  “You know, you may have missed your true calling as a doctor…I’m amazed at how easily you have talked him in to keeping up with his treatment schedule.  I wish I had that kind of help with every fur on this ship, then maybe I could actually catch up on my horticulture projects…”  “Nick has actually been quite cooperative with it.” Jess agreed cheerfully “I sort of think that deep down he really wants to have someone to take care of him.”  “Plus he looks cute in those diapers.”  “There is that too.” Jess agreed cheerfully “Though I’m sure he would appreciate it if we kept that to ourselves…I think he’d probably die of embarrassment if the rest of the crew found out.”  “Agreed.” Dr. Farran laughed.

“…insulting my dignity…” I mumbled semi-coherently, my mind drifting as my body was lovingly cradled by Jess.  “Yep.” She grinned mischievously “I own your soul now my grumpy little boy!”  “Could be worse.” I sighed contentedly “That means I’m your responsibility.”  “Heh.” Jess shrugged “That being the case, I think it would be a good idea for you to finish your nap…”  “If I have to.” I sighed theatrically, closing my eyes and willing up sleep again.


My little nap ended up not being as little as Dr. Farran had intended…apparently what was a mild sedative for the majority of the universe metabolized a lot differently in humans.  I remember Jess and Dr. Farran moving me back to our quarters, Jess having to basically hold me up as they guided me down the passageway.  Luckily our bunk had been swapped out for our new bed, so there was somewhere relatively convenient for them to lay me down to sleep it off.  The rest of the day was mostly a blur as I fitfully tried to sleep.  Dr. Farran had assured Jess that there wasn’t anything serious to be worried about, so after she was convinced I would be okay she mostly spent the day catching up on her reading.

Towards the evening I grew a bit more awake, though was still not in any condition to be up and around.  “You know,” I smiled “You’re my bright side.”  “Oh?” Jess asked, looking up from her book.  “Uh huh.  They always say to look for the bright side of things, well you are the bright side to this whole thing.”  “I’m glad.” She smiled, reaching over and tousseling my hair.  “You like being taken care of, don’t you?” she asked, more of a statement than a question “It’s okay that you do, I like taking care of you…”  “Really?” I asked almost shyly “You don’t think it’s kind of odd?”  “Not even a little bit.” Jess explained gently “It’s a big universe, and one thing that you will eventually come to accept is that by and large most furs you will meet are pretty nonjudgmental.  There are many different ways for them to live, and whatever makes you feel loved and happy is okay.”  “Love you.” I smiled happily “I’m not sure if I want to laugh or cry…”  Sitting down next to me on the edge of the bed, Jess leaned over and kissed me on the forehead.  “I know how you feel…don’t forget I’ve found someone to love and take care of too…”

“Well, speaking of which…” Jess laughed cheerfully “It’s just about dinner time, and it so happens I have something I thought you might like to try…”  Reaching into her bag, she held up a baby bottle full of what looked like orange juice.  “I was talking with Dr. Farran, and we came up with a new nutrient drink which I think you’ll find a bit tastier than the old one.”  “Okay, but where does the bottle come in?” I asked, thinking that I had a pretty good idea already.  “I just kind of liked the idea…” Jess grinned, seeing that I had no real intention to argue, and deep down kind of liked the idea too.  Patting her lap, she snuggled up next to me before presenting the bottle.  “Here you go little guy.”  I couldn’t exactly tell how things were supposed to work at first, but after hesitantly giving it a try I caught on pretty quickly.  It was a strange sort of feeling, being fed like that, but a wonderfully safe and intimate one,  Looking up in to her eyes as I finished my juice, I could tell she felt the same way.  “All done.” Jess laughed cheerfully as she set the empty bottle on the end table, then tousseled my hair before getting up and heading for the bathroom.  “Let’s get you changed, then it’s off to bed…  I think we should probably hold off on taking a shower until tomorrow when you’re not so tired, it wouldn’t be good for you to accidentally fall or something because you’re half asleep…”  “Okay.” I nodded in agreement as she returned, diaper bag in hand.

“I’m wet?” I asked, feeling more than a little bit confused “How did that happen?”  Looking down I could see that yes, indeed there was a spreading yellow patch on the front of my diaper.  “Don’t think about it too hard, you’ll make your brain explode.” Jess joked.  “But…” I started to ask when my question was cut short by a draft of cold air in a very personal place.  “Eeep!” I yelped, suddenly feeling very exposed and not just to the cold.  “Just wait a second and we’ll get you covered back up…” Jess promised, making rapid and efficient work of changing me.  “Lift up a bit.” She instructed, sliding the wet diaper out from under me and cleaning things up a bit before a dash of powder and a new diaper fastened up, cutting off the draft and returning things to a much more comfortable temperature.  “There, all ready for bed!” she declared before heading back into the bathroom.  I began to drowse again, listening idly to Jess getting ready for bed: water running in the sink, the towel rack squeaking a little bit, clothes rustling, and finally the lights being switched off throughout our quarters. 

Opening my eyes again I saw a faint orange glow coming from one corner of the room.  “I thought a nightlight would probably be a good idea.” Jess explained as she lay down next to me.  She had put on a sort of evening jumper, for lack of a better description, a billowy thing, almost like a child’s sleeper, but without the feet.  “I want one of those…” I mused, snuggling up to her with a happy little sigh.  “We can get you one tomorrow” she agreed.  “The light isn’t going to bother you is it?”  “Nope.” I explained “I actually kind of like it…  When I was little, for a while our house was under construction and things weren’t insulated as well as they normally would be, so it got pretty cold in the winter.  Well for some reason I really didn’t like sleeping under a bunch of heavy blankets, so my parents ended up getting a space heater for my room.  It had a little orange light that would come on when it turned on and was running, and I always ended up sleeping backwards down at the foot of the bed because that was where the heater was.  It was always a really nice fuzzy feeling to be lying there at night with the hum of the fan and the warm air blowing on my face and through my hair, and always that cheerful little orange light…”  “That’s sweet.” She laughed, wrapping her arms around me.  “It was always one of my favorite memories of growing up.” I nodded “Later when I was much older we used the same kind of heater out in the shop off the garage, and I always seemed to find a reason to be out there in the winter evenings…I’d just plop down on the concrete floor, lean up against one of the workbenches , and just sort of bask in the warmth.”  “Sounds like the way a lot of furs get with the blow-dryers.” She nodded “Fur gets all puffed up and warm, and it’s just kind of one of those simple little pleasures we find in life…”  “Kind of like cuddling in bed…” I agreed sleepily, more than ready to call it a night.


“…going to need that back so I can go to my duty shift…”  I was warm and cozy, and had found something fuzzy to cuddle up with through the night; things were really okay in a happy, sleepy sort of way, so why was Jess gently tugging on my fuzzy and letting all that cold air under the covers?  “Come on Nick, you’ve got to wake up and be a bit more reasonable…I’ve got to go to work and we’ll both miss breakfast, so how about it?”  “Grblgh.” I groaned, communicating to the best of my ability, while still refusing to yield my fuzzy.  “I’m not going to argue with you mister!” she responded sternly “Now give me my tail back and go potty so we can get breakfast.”    Slowly my mind began to grind into forward motion.  “Potty…yeah, need to potty.”  “That’s right, you stayed dry all night, so let’s go to the big boy potty now.” She laughed, amused at my early morning brain fog.  “’Kay.” I nodded, slowly digging myself out of the warm blankets into the much colder air…only to put my bare feet down on to the absolutely frigid deck plating.  “Ayee!” I yelped, instantly awake “Cold cold cold cold cold!”  “Well, at least you’re awake now.” Jess nodded seriously “May I have my tail back now?”  “That” I whined, dropping her tail somewhat reluctantly as I found my way into the bathroom and did my business “Was certifiably evil.”  “A little.” She agreed “But you have to admit it was effective!”  Still grumbling a little, I threw my leather coat on over my jumpsuit, then sat down on the edge of the bed to wait while Jess brushed out her fur (particularly her rather ruffled tail) and changed into her own jumpsuit, then emerged from the bathroom. 

“Okay, that’s it I think…” she said to herself looking around until her eyes alighted on me.  “You’re not going to breakfast with your headfur like that…” she chided “You look like you just got up.”  “I did just get up.” I shrugged, standing up to go.  “You wait right there a minute.” She sighed, grabbing a brush out of the bathroom and working over my hair vigorously until she was satisfied.  “There, now you look halfway presentable…what would the crew think if I let you walk around like that?” she grinned cheerfully.  “It’s all about you, isn’t it?” I kidded, giving her a hug as we headed for the dining hall.  Breakfast was more of our usual fare, except we decided that I would graduate from juice to oatmeal, which seemed like a good idea, but as Jess pointed out “only time will tell”.  Even if time told later on it was still good to have something almost solid to eat.  The dining hall was more crowded than I had seen it before, and I couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling that they were watching me when I wasn’t looking.  “It’s okay,” Jess sighed “you’re still new and interesting, so they’re all still curious about you, but nobody will bite, I promise.”

Despite Jess’ assurances, I really wasn’t all that comfortable being the center of attention, and consequentially ended up going through my breakfast a bit quicker than I usually would have, and ended up feeling a little bit queasy as Jess and I headed out after breakfast.  “Oof.” I mumbled a bit dejectedly.  “Well maybe next time you won’t scarf down your food like that…” Jess sighed.  “Uh huh.”  Walking back to our quarters, I asked Jess if it would be okay if I went with her to her duty shift.  “I really don’t want to sit around our quarters or the sickbay by myself all day.” I explained “And I was going to see if I could make my clothes a bit more suitable, so maybe I could just kind of find somewhere out of the way to sit while you worked?”  “I don’t see why not.” She shrugged as she opened the door to our quarters “It won’t exactly be the most interesting thing in the world to sit around and watch me work, but we’ve got plenty of room so you won’t be in the way or anything.”

I gathered up my spare jumpsuit and a collection of miscellaneous underwear (which because of my…situation I had yet to wear) while Jess dug through the closet, to emerge with a plastic box of sewing supplies.  “Here we go.” She nodded triumphantly “I knew it was floating around in there somewhere…”  Looking through the little box, I was pleased to see that needles and thread were one of those items where form follows function, and as such were the same as the ones I’d used before.  “Well, if that’s everything then…” I queried, heading back out the door.  Taking my hand, Jess led me down the hallway, turning down a different way than we had gone before.  “My station isn’t too far from the living quarters.” She explained, pointing to a door down the hall “I’m actually kind of lucky that way, it lets me be lazy.”  “Somehow I have trouble picturing you even having the capability of being lazy…” I joked as we entered her offices.

The navigations area turned out to look a lot like a computer lab, with several workstations set up in the middle of the room and large displays hanging on the walls.  In one corner of the room, a clear cylinder ran between a pair of odd little contraptions attached to the floor and ceiling.  “What do you think?” Jess questioned as I looked around.  “Somehow I pictured a bunch of big star atlases and piles of rolled up survey maps.” I shrugged, dragging a very comfortable looking padded office chair over to an out of the way corner of the room and settling down in it.  “Nope, we’ve had computer technology for quite a while now.” She joked as she logged in to a terminal.  “Well, don’t let me keep you from your work.” I  smiled, turning my attentions to the pile of laundry I had brought.  “No, we couldn’t have that.” Jess agreed, starting in on her work as well.

Sewing had never been a great skill of mine, but I had always managed well enough in the past, and after I had settled in for the morning I proceeded to make a sizable dent in my pile of clothes.  Sewing up tail holes didn’t take long, and as time passed I grew closer and closer to completing my task.  “How is it coming?” Jess asked, looking up from her computer terminal for a moment.  “Pretty well” I shrugged “I’m making fairly quick work of it…I’ll probably be done before you are.”  “Yes, but you’re not making a map of the local star systems.” She laughed, playfully flicking a little piece of crumpled up paper in my direction.  “Oh, very mature…” I chided with mock severity before returning her smile and getting back to my project.

Playing tailor isn’t exactly the most tiring way to spend an afternoon, but then I wasn’t in the best condition either, and by the time I was finishing up the last of my pile of clothes I was really feeling pretty beat.  “I guess it’s naptime…” I thought to myself as I put the needle and thread back into their little box.  I debated for a minute asking Jess to take me back to our quarters, but she seemed to be so intent on her work that I decided it would be best not to bother her.  Having spent a lot of my free time backpacking I’d long ago gotten used to sleeping on just about anything…and the smooth carpeting on the floor was a lot more inviting than some places I’d been.  Picking out the most empty corner of the room I dumped my recently modified collection of clothes into a pile on the floor.  Then, settling down in the middle of them I snuggled under the pile and tried to go to sleep.

It’s easy to fall asleep when you don’t want to, but now that I was actively trying sleep proved to be a bit more elusive than I would have liked.  I ended up staring over Jess’ shoulder at her computer screen, which showed an intricately detailed map of some piece of space that would change every now and then as she worked.  One collection of stars really looked pretty much like another, I decided as my eyelids grew heavy.  Yawning a little I snuggled down deeper into my pile of laundry and decided that dozing was as good as sleeping in the long run, and at least if I couldn’t sleep I may as well try to learn a little bit about what Jess did all day.  And of course once I’d decided to stay awake it wasn’t long before I was sound asleep.


I was still tired when I woke up.  So much for the benefits of an afternoon nap…  Looking up I saw Jess was logging out of her terminal.  “What time is it?” I wondered aloud, sitting up and stretching.  “Time for dinner.”  She informed me “But first time for you to pick up all of your stuff…”  “Aww…” I sighed theatrically “If I really have to…”  Scooping up my clothes and stuffing them back into the laundry bag I followed Jess down the hallway.  “I was thinking we could pick up dinner and eat back in our quarters.” She suggested “We were here longer than I intended, and I’m really kind of tired.”  “Sure, whatever you want.” I agreed.  “Besides, you’re going to need a change too.”  “I…how did that happen again?” I grumbled, growing frustrated “And why didn’t I even notice?”  “For the exact same reason you didn’t notice it last time.” She sighed patiently “You’re going to just have to wait, in time you’ll recover.  You aren’t going to be able to rush things, and all you’ll end up with is a bunch of frustration.”  Nodding my agreement I followed her into the cafeteria.

Grabbing a tray, we loaded up at the food dispensers, then, doing my best to meet the curious looks of the off duty crewmembers with what I hoped was a friendly smile, I followed Jess back to our room.  “We really need to try to more actively introduce you around the ship…” Jess mused as we sat down on the fluffy area rug in the middle of our floor and began laying out our food.  “You didn’t even get to meet the rest of the people in my department today; they came in after you had started your nap, and we all felt it would be better to let you sleep.”  “I’m sorry I missed them.” I said around a mouthful of cereal. (We decided I would go with food choices we had already had luck with.)  “They were kind of disappointed too…but everyone agreed you look really cute while you’re sleeping!”  “And how was your day?” I asked in an embarrassed attempt to change the subject.  I lapsed into silence as she explained about testing samples of interstellar dust to determine various things about a star system, listening with interest as I finished my dinner.  Jess finished hers a lot slower, being the one doing all the talking, but before too long she was running the tray and dishes back to the cafeteria while I took the opportunity to try to change myself.

“This can’t be too difficult…” I thought to myself as I gathered up the diaper bag Jess had put together and headed for the bathroom.  After stripping off my clothes I laid out a towel on the floor, then slipped out of the soiled diaper and unceremoniously tossed it in the trash.  Taking a look at one of the fresh diapers, I noticed that it didn’t seem to have any adhesive or Velcro type stuff on the fastening tabs.  “Huh…” I wondered, looking around in the bag for an instruction sheet for a minute before I remembered that I wouldn’t be able to read it even if I found one.  Picking the diaper back up, I noticed that the tabs had fused themselves to the sides where the two materials had come into contact with each other when I’d tossed it on the ground.  “Oh…self adhesive.”  With that problem solved I got out the box of wipes and cleaned myself up a bit before doing my best to get the diaper situated happily.  To my consternation it turned out to be quite a bit more difficult than it had any right to be, and by the time I’d gotten it done nobody could begin to mistake it for a competent job.  Flopping down on the bed, I was just beginning to get settled in when Jess returned.  “I’m back…” she announced “Now let’s see about getting you change…umm…”  Seeing her eyeing my diapering job with amusement I ignored her sporadic little giggles and explained that “It turns out it’s a bit harder to do than I’d thought it would be…”  “That’s okay.” She nodded placatingly “It’s about time you had a bath anyway, so it will have to come right back off again.”

“A bath would be good.” I agreed as Jess began running the water “I’m a little stiff from sleeping on the floor earlier so the hot water will help that a bit.”  “We could have just walked you back to the room…” she sighed “Speak up next time, okay?”  “Okay, okay…” I sighed, not even beginning to argue when I was this tired.  “I don’t have any bubble bath…” she commented apologetically “I’ll get some tomorrow if we have any in the stores, but I can’t make any promises.”  “That’s not exactly something that they typically stock on a starship, is it?” I laughed.  “I’m not honestly sure, I’ve never thought to look.” She explained “But if I can’t find any we can always pick some up next time we set in at a port.”  “When will that be?”  I asked curiously, intrigued with the idea of what a spaceport would be like.  “I’ll have to look it up on the ship’s computer…” Jess explained “But I would imagine we are due for a layover fairly soon.  And speaking of soon, your bathwater is ready so you should be hopping in soon.”

“Right then…” I nodded, waiting for Jess to leave the room.  “Hop in!” she replied, getting a washcloth out of the cabinet.  “Umm…I can handle it myself” I explained, beginning to blush as I realized her intent “I don’t need any help…”  “Don’t be silly little one.” She chided “Now let’s go, the water is cooling down.”  “Okay…” I yielded, blushing vigorously as I pulled my shirt over my head and quickly slipped into the water.  “Oh come on, it’s not like I haven’t seen you naked before.” She laughed “And look on the bright side, since you don’t have as much fur as the rest of us it won’t take as long…”  Then, grinning wickedly she added “Though I must admit, the fur you do have is in some rather…intriguing places!”

“You’re trying to make me die of embarrassment, aren’t you?  Admit it…” I grumbled as she began to wash my shoulders.  “Maybe a little…” she agreed “It’s a lot easier to tell when you’re blushing than with the others.”  Doing my best to give in to the inevitable, I slid down into the wonderfully warm water and closed my eyes, trying to ignore the fact that a very attractive artic fox was giving me a very thorough bath.  Luckily the embarrassment of the situation was such that I really wasn’t in the sort of mindset which could have made the situation a great deal more embarrassing.  By the time I was finally growing comfortable enough to be able to relax a little Jess announced that we were “All done”, and that I ought to “hop out before you fall asleep in there!”  Falling asleep didn’t sound like too terrible an idea, but when I voiced this opinion Jess was quite insistent that I couldn’t spend the night in the bathtub.  Shivering a little as the colder air hit my skin I managed to rouse myself out of the tub, regardless of how much nicer it was in the warm water.

“Now hold out your arms.” Jess instructed, rapidly drying me off with a pair of pleasantly fluffy towels.  “Mmm…fuzzy…” I grinned in appreciation.  “Yep.” She nodded, getting out her diaper bag and laying another towel down on the floor “Now just lay down here a minute and let’s get you ready for bed.”  “ ‘Kay.” I agreed cooperatively as I quickly found myself staring up at the bathroom ceiling.  Slipping a diaper under me, Jess sprinkled on a bit more powder than she intended, a little cloud of it puffing up and making me sneeze.  “You’ve got some on your nose.” I laughed, reaching up and wiping it off as she fastened up the tapes.  “Maybe I should put it back…” I mused as I sat up and helped Jess put everything away again “It looked kind of cute there…”  “Not that I’m saying your nose isn’t cute the way it is” I teased, leaning over and giving her a little kiss on the end of her nose “It’s just that it’s extra cute with it!”

I could have sworn I saw her blush at that as she ducked back into the bathroom to change out of her work clothes.  Laughing a little to myself I crawled into bed, curling up with my stuffed puppy.  A minute later the lights shut off and I could feel the bed shift as Jess crawled in herself.  “Any more room, or is it all the puppy’s?” she asked quietly, snuggling up against me.  “We can make room.” I yawned as I felt her wrap her arms around me.  Snuggling back into her I found her tail tickling my nose.  “Mine.” I smiled, hugging the end of it.  Hearing Jess sigh tolerantly next to me, I drifted off into a contented sleep.  There really is a bright side to everything.  Sometimes you have to find it, sometimes it finds you.

To Be Continued...