Business As Usual
A Workaholic’s Cure
"Are you still here?" a woman's voice inquired, a bit incredulously. "Huh?" I muttered, jerked out of my reverie by the unexpected noise. Looking up from my computer, I saw Robin, an attractive looking wolf who worked down the hall standing in the doorway to my little office. "Oh hi" I smiled, "I didn't hear you walk up." Looking amused, she asked me "Do you know what time it is? The office closed an hour and a half ago."
"Yeah, I know" I sighed "But I've got to finish up some stuff tonight." Waving a paw at the huge stack of papers prominently taking up residence on my desk I explained "That whole stack is known bug reports for the new network they installed last week. I'm going to be here for a while." "Poor Nick," Robin smiled sympathetically "always the first one here in the morning and the last one to leave at night." "Considering the state the old systems administrator left things in, I'm lucky I get to go home at all. I think that the two weeks I've worked here I've seen more of this little hole in the wall than I've seen my apartment."
Sitting down on the edge of my desk, Robin flipped through a handful of the forms. "This will all be here in the morning you know. Go home. You're beginning to develop some self-destructive tendencies." She said, waving a finger at me admonishingly. "Yes mother." I replied sarcastically, starting to get a bit annoyed. "That's going to take on a whole new meaning if you don't watch it…" Robin smiled mischievously, then sidled out the door.
I was awakened the next morning by a high pitched mechanical ringing. "Shut UP!" I groaned, slapping at the snooze button on my alarm clock with no effect. As the ringing continued, and I woke up a little bit more, I realized that it was the phone and not my (rather battered at this point) alarm clock that was the cause of my rude awakening. "Mrrglhrb. H'Lo?" I managed to get out after snatching the phone off its cradle. "Nick! Where are you? You were supposed to be in an hour ago!" Recognizing my boss's voice on the phone, I glanced over at my clock. "Oh crap. I must not have set the alarm last night." I groaned. "Listen, the network went down overnight, we need you to get up here and fix it as soon as you can." "I'm sorry Mr. Tiggrens," I soothed "I'll be down there in twenty minutes."
Not stopping for breakfast, I managed to get in to the office as quickly as I had promised. Surveying the damage, I determined that it wasn't as bad as Mr. Tiggrens had made it out to be, and luckily I could just re-load most of the damaged software from backup tapes. (Like I always say, there are two types of computer users: Happy ones and fools who do not back-up.) By the time lunch rolled around, I had most of the system running again, and was just returning to my known bug reports from yesterday (and the day before, and the day before that…)
On the way down to the break room, I was intercepted by Robin. "There you are! I've been looking all over for you." She greeted me. "You flatter me, I didn't realize I was in such high demand!" I teased her. Rolling her eyes and smiling, she got to the point "Some of us are getting together after work to go to a new club that opened up downtown, want to come?" "I'd like to" I sighed "but I've still got a lot of things here that need finishing up." "There's a world outside of this office you know." Robin pointed out, growing a bit annoyed. "Yeah, but IT isn't responsible for getting our computer system back up." I answered, a bit more sharply than I had intended. "Damn it Nick" She replied in a no nonsense tone "It's Friday night. We're all going to go out after work, and you are coming with us whither you want to or not. You WILL sing, dance, eat, drink and in short have a good time!" "Okay, Okay" I laughed, holding up my paws defensively "You win! I surrender! I'll go." "Good. We're all meeting in the lobby after work." Robin instructed "And don't think of ducking out, Canines have a good sense of smell" she joked, tapping her muzzle "I'll track you down and drag you!" And with that, she turned on her heel and headed down the hall, tail swishing behind her.
I usually didn't have much use for nightclubs, too loud and crowded, and was beginning to feel a little annoyed with myself for getting roped into going. Then, after a bit more thought, I decided it wouldn't be too bad. "Aww, what the hell" I thought to myself "I need a break anyway."
Arriving in the lobby after work, I met up with Robin and the others, most of whom I recognized from around the office. Luckily, since we left right away, we got there before a line started to form up, so we got a table without having to wait around for too long. The place wasn't anything special, just your typical dance place, music, lights, the usual. The whole thing made me a little uncomfortable; I didn't go out with people much, so I didn't really know what to do with myself. When Carl, a cheetah who worked in the Research and Development lab downstairs worked his way back to the table laden with a tray of drinks, I quickly took one, grateful to have something to do with my hands. By the time I had finished it off, I was beginning to loosen up, and decided that no, this wasn't as bad as I'd feared it would be.
As the night progressed, we had a good time, Robin even dragged me onto the dance floor for a while, discovering, much to everyone's amusement that I wasn't much of a dancer. (Though after a few drinks, that hardly stopped me from trying…) Before I realized it, it had gotten to be pretty late, and I decided that it was time to go home. "Well," I said to Robin as I (somewhat shakily) got to my feet "I guess I'll see you all at work Monday." "Where are you going?" She replied, looking at me a bit quizzically. "Home" I laughed stifling a yawn "Morning's sneaking up on us again, and I'd prefer to be in bed before it gets here." Shaking her head, she held out her paw "You're drunk. Come on, give me your keys and I'll take you home." "I'm fine," I argued halfheartedly, suspecting that maybe she was right. Robin didn't even dignify that with a reply, staring at me sternly until, sighing I handed over my keys as we headed to the parking lot.
During the car ride I found myself beginning to drift off to sleep, lulled by the drone of the engine. "We're home." Robin announced after a time, nudging me into some approximation of consciousness. I was finding it hard to get my wits back up to speed, guess I really HAD been putting in too much time at work recently… Looking out the window, I was greeted with the sight of an utterly unfamiliar neighborhood. "Hey, this isn't my house." I stated, somewhat dimly "I thought you said you were taking me home?" "Who said anything about YOUR home?" Robin answered, smiling mischievously as she opened the door for me.
"Wait here, I'll be back in a second." Robin instructed as I followed her inside. Stepping into Robin's living room, I collapsed into a conveniently located armchair to wait. It was a really comfortable chair, and I soon found myself wanting to return to the nice little nap I was taking in the car. Deciding that it would be rude to fall asleep in her living room when she was probably just dropping off some stuff before she took me to MY home, I did my best to stay awake. This proved to be a losing battle, and before long I was comfortably sleeping.
Feeling someone scratching me behind the ears, I slowly began to wake up. "Hey little guy, time to get up!" Slowly opening my eyes, I saw Robin sitting next to me on the edge of the couch. "Ah, THERE you are!" She laughed "I was beginning to wonder when you were going to join me." "Hmmf." I grunted, forcing myself to sit up. "What time is it?" "Oh, it's not tomorrow yet." Robin answered airily.
Shaking off the sleep, I started to get up when I noticed something, specifically that I wasn't wearing anything except for what looked like…a diaper? "Eep!" I squeaked in surprise while looking around frantically for my clothes. Robin meanwhile was laughing good-naturedly while watching the spectacle I was putting on. Realizing that my clothes were not going to be forthcoming, I turned on Robin in embarrassed indignance. "Just what the hell is this?" I growled, stalking over to where she was sitting. "A little surprise." She responded reasonably. I couldn't think of anything to say to that. "Now, be a good little boy and wait here for a minute while I go check something." She continued, heading out of the living room.
As I sat there in the living room waiting for her to get back, I thought over the situation I found myself in, trying to figure out how I ended up sitting around in my co-worker's living room, half-drunk in a diaper at probably two in the morning. After thinking about it for a while, I began to realize that maybe I was being a little bit hasty. This WAS the most interesting (or at least the strangest) thing that had happened to me in quite a while, and being in a diaper wasn't THAT much of a big deal anyway, it's kind of like thick underwear or something. Besides, for some reason I was beginning to find them…comfortable?
After reaching the conclusion that I was going to stick around and see where Robin was planning on going with this I began to develop a more immediate problem than finding where my pants went. I had to go to the bathroom, and rather urgently at that. Robin came back into the room as I was debating whether or not to go look for it on my own.
"Well," she said jokingly "Since you followed me home, I think I'm going to keep you." I couldn't think of a response to that, but apparently she didn't expect one. "Will you play a little game with me?" she continued, sitting down next to me on the couch. "What kind of game?" I asked rather densely. Hey, nature's call was being more persistent than my grasp of the obvious. "I'm sure you have some idea" Robin smiled "now will you play with me or not?" At this point, I decided that I didn't care, I just wanted her bathroom, and I wanted it more than anything else in the whole wide world. "Sure, but in a second, okay." I said, a bit hastily. "I need to go to the bathroom."
"Go ahead." Robin laughed. "Umm, where is it?" I queried, beginning to unconsciously cross my legs. "That's what your diapers are for, silly boy." "That's okay, I'd prefer your bathroom, if it's all the same to you." I began rather impatiently, only to be cut off. "Oh, but it isn't." She started playfully. "Little foxy drank way, way, too much." Robin observed "I think you'll change your mind in a second." "I'm not going to go." I stated flatly, crossing my arms.
At that, a dark look crossed Robin's face. Without warning, she sprung at me growling menacingly, claws extended before her, reaching for my throat. Panicking, I stumbled backwards, tripping over her end table, to end up lying on the floor with the snarling wolf on top of me, pinning me to the ground. Time seemed to stand still as she glared down at me. Then suddenly, she broke into a grin, and kissed me on the end of my muzzle. "Scared you!" She laughed, letting me up, then, sniffing added "Hmm, that seems to have done the trick!"
Trembling, I stumbled to my feet, and somehow managed to stagger to the couch before my legs collapsed out from under me. Watching this, Robin's expression turned from one of amusement to concern. "Nick, are you all right?" She asked gently, reaching out and touching my shoulder. Flinching away violently, I began to sniffle.
"Oh god, I'm sorry honey. I didn't mean to scare you like that." Robin said, sitting down and slowly taking me into her arms. "Are you going to be okay? I promise I'll never do that again. Forgive me?" As she began to rock me back and forth, I felt the tenseness gradually leave me, and my sniffles began to subside. After a time, Robin looked at me and said "There, now that's better. I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you." "It's not really your fault," I began to explain "I've been under a lot of stress at work lately, trying to get our new computer system working right. I guess that it's starting to catch up with me." "Poor little foxy" Robin sympathized. "Now, why don't we get you out of that wet diaper, hmm?"
Nodding, I got up and followed her. Arriving at the bathroom, which turned out to be down the hallway, Robin told me to "Hop up on the counter and I'll change you." "I can take care of it myself." I objected somewhat nervously. "It's not like I haven't seen you naked before," Robin sighed "I put you in that to begin with, remember?" Not waiting for an argument, Robin reached into the cabinet and pulled out another diaper. "Hey, where are my clothes?" I asked. "I thought we were going to play." Robin said, beginning to look a bit disappointed by the prospect that we might not be. "Well…" I started hesitantly. "I tell you what," Robin decided, sensing my uncertainty, and also noting that I wasn't actually refusing "I'll go get your clothes, and you think about it while I'm gone." "Okay" I agreed as she disappeared back into the hallway.
"I don't want to do this…Do I?" I thought to myself. Part of me was seriously considering it. I found the idea of diapers strangely appealing, and Robin was a very attractive wolf, and she did seem genuinely sorry for scaring me earlier. "What the hell" I decided, "What would it hurt to try it?" Coming back with a bundle of my clothes, Robin asked me cheerfully "Well, what's it going to be?" "I want to pway." I smiled.
Obviously happy, Robin busied herself digging through the bathroom cabinets, occasionally taking things out, until she had a small pile of assorted jars, tubes and boxes. "What's all that stuff?" I asked curiously. "You never babysat when you were growing up, did you?" Robin replied, shaking her head in mock surprise at my ignorance. "Nope. I was an only child, so there really wasn't much of a market for it." I joked. "Well, that's okay. That's what I'm here for!"
"Now be a good boy and lie down." Robin instructed. I felt a sudden draft where there shouldn't have been one as she took off the old diaper. She very efficiently cleaned me up, then sprinkled on a bit of baby powder. "Baby powder really does smell kind of nice." I thought idly as I stared at the ceiling. As she fastened the tapes on the new diaper, Robin declared "There! All done." Yawning a little bit, I got up off of the table. "Hmm, looks like it's past someone's bedtime." Robin observed "Why don't we have a little snack, then it'll be time for bed." Nodding in agreement, I followed her to the kitchen.
"So, what's to eat." I asked as we entered the kitchen. Opening the refrigerator, she took out a carton of orange juice, then began looking through the cabinets until she located a bottle. "Aww." I grumbled "I was hoping for something a bit more substantial." "Well, after you've finished your bottle, if you are still hungry I'll make you some spaghetti or mashed potatoes." Robin compromised diplomatically. Going back to the living room, Robin sat down on the couch, and then patted the seat next to her, inviting me to join her.
Sitting down next to her, I curled up with my head in her lap, and she began to feed me the bottle. Lying there with Robin, having my bottle was relaxing, and as the late hour caught up with me, I began to doze off. Feeling something wiping my muzzle woke me a little, and looking up I saw Robin wiping up a bit of the orange juice. "If you fall asleep while you are eating you'll make a mess." She chided me good-naturedly. "Now I think it's past your bedtime, little one." Nodding in agreement, I got up and shuffled down the hall with her.
"Here we are." She smiled, leading me into the guest bedroom. Lying down I snuggled into the blankets until all Robin could see were the tops of my ears poking out in one place, and the end of my muzzle in another. "Sweet dreams Nick." She whispered, tucking me in, then departing to parts unknown, closing the door behind her. Without any more disturbances, I quickly fell fast asleep.
I woke up the next morning to the smell of frying bacon. "That's not right." I thought "Who's cooking bacon in my apartment?" Opening my eyes to the early morning sunshine streaming through the windows, I was hit by the worst hangover I could ever remember having. Groaning, I slumped back down into bed. Burying my head under the pillows in a halfhearted attempt to hide from the sunshine, the events of last night came back to me. The party. Robin. Her 'little game'. "What in the world was I thinking?" I asked myself. "How did I get involved in this?" "Why didn't I just leave?" the voices asked, berating myself. "Because you liked it." Came the answer. At that point, I heard Robin come in, interrupting my inner turmoil.
"Tisk, Tisk. You need to start taking better care of yourself." She said. I heard her put something down on the nightstand. "I brought you some aspirin, and I've got breakfast in the kitchen when you're ready." "Thanks" I mumbled from under the pillow, feeling around blindly for the aspirin as I heard Robin walk out again.
After taking the pills, I began to feel a bit better. Crawling out of bed, I discovered that I still wasn't wearing anything but a diaper, and my clothes hadn't managed to reappear during the night either. Heading into the kitchen, I found Robin sitting at the table, reading the newspaper. "Feeling better?" She smiled, looking up as I came in. "A little bit." I conceded, sitting down. "I've got breakfast ready" Robin said, waving in the general direction of the counter, where I saw a large assortment of goodies. "Load up a plate, and let's head over to the living room. "The living room?" I questioned. "It's Saturday," she explained in the tone one uses when they feel what they are saying should be obvious "There are cartoons to be watched!"
Taking the plate Robin offered, I loaded up a good helping of everything: bacon, pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and even some of the chopped fruit, drizzling everything with a generous coating of syrup, just for good measure. "Hungry little guy, aren't you?" Robin commented, taking a much more reasonable serving for herself, and leading me to the living room.
Putting our plates on the coffee table, we settled into the couch, and, picking up the remote, Robin started flipping through the channels. "So, what do we want to watch this morning?" she questioned as we watched the channels flip by. "You pick." I answered. Eventually deciding on a show, we settled in and ate breakfast. The food was very good; Robin must have had quite a bit of experience cooking, though she just laughed when I pointed this out.
We kept watching TV after we were done with breakfast. I ended up lying down with my head in her lap, and she in turn ended up absentmindedly playing with my headfur. As I sat there, I began thinking about the whole situation I found myself in. I had to admit to myself that I liked being Robin's baby. Something about being taken care of made me feel really secure, like nothing bad could ever happen, and all the troubles of the world were being kept at bay. I was beginning to be able to relax in a way I hadn't been able to in a long time. And admittedly I HAD always been a bit attracted to Robin. (Which probably made me a lot more accepting than I would have otherwise been.) But no matter how comfortable I was getting with things, I still had a lingering little voice in the back of my mind telling me that there was something weird about what we were doing.
Robin must have noticed something of my inner turmoil. "Is something wrong Nick?" "I don't know, I feel a little bit odd about all of this." I replied, sitting up. Looking at me with an expression of amused disbelief, Robin said "If you can look me in the eyes and honestly tell me that you are not enjoying yourself, I'll take you home." And of course I couldn't. I was happy. Sighing contentedly, I put my head back in her lap, and we got back to watching cartoons.
After we had watched quite a few cartoons, Robin announced that it was lunchtime. Turning off the TV, she headed off to the kitchen, and not having anything else to do, I padded after her. "How does macaroni and cheese sound?" She asked, beginning to dig out ingredients. "Yummy." I laughed, picking a cabinet at random and digging into it, finding nothing but dishes. "No fair" I whined, feigning deep disappointment. "How come YOUR cabinet has food and mine only has pots and pans?" Pulling a can at random out of the pantry, Robin said "Well, I'll trade you this for a pan." "Maybe, what is it?" I queried. Looking at the label, she declared "sliced green beans." "Yay!" I yelled, grabbing the can and handing Robin a large saucepan in exchange. "The Magic Can of Green Beans is mine at last!" At which point I put a large pot on my head for a hat, grabbed a ladle, and began parading the can around the house while whistling merrily. Robin in the meanwhile was laughing so hard that she had to sit down. It probably was a ridiculous sight, a full-grown fox in a diaper and cooking pot, parading through the house brandishing a can and whistling a marching tune. After she finally quit laughing, Robin finished cooking the macaroni, shaking her head in amusement the whole time, and occasionally giggling to herself.
Lunch went by quickly. We discussed plans for the afternoon while we ate. Robin wanted to go to the park. I wanted to catch up on my sleep. It was eventually decided, to the satisfaction of everyone involved, that we would go play in the back yard for a while. After putting our dishes in the sink, Robin showed me the yard. It was a lot bigger than I had expected, and very nicely tended, with flowerbeds, and lots of large trees. Robin explained that she liked to garden in her free time, and that this was the result. Noticing her obvious pride in her own little backyard jungle, I commented that "It's very nice." Then trotted off to explore, Robin trailing behind me.
After looking over every nook and cranny of the garden (while Robin narrated with a botany lesson) I eventually settled down under a large oak tree, curling up in preparation for a nap. "Now are you going to stay here and be a good little foxy?" Robin asked me playfully. "That's the plan." I smiled, getting comfortable in the grass. "Okay, I'll be back to check on you in a bit. If you need anything before then, I'll be inside." She said over her shoulder as she walked back to the house.
Lying in the grass looking up at the sky, I realized that I hadn't felt this relaxed in years. That scared me a little bit. I had never seen myself as a person who would be interested in something as…different as being dressed up in diapers and treated like a little kit. Having to reassess myself like this worried me a bit. Deciding that mental conflict wasn't particularly facilitative to napping, I decided that I would much rather watch the clouds float by for a while.
Before I knew it, I felt someone prodding me awake. "Go way." I muttered, rolling over. The grass was soft, the sun was warm on my fur, and I really didn't feel like coming out of my comfortable little revere. "Come on, time to get up." Robin was saying shaking me again. Grumbling, I finally gave in and sat up. "I was having a nice dream." I groused. "Well, its getting late." Robin explained. "You were asleep for most of the afternoon, and you looked so peaceful curled up there that I didn't have the heart to wake you up." Reaching over, she picked a bit of grass out of my headfur. "Now, why don't you come inside?"
As I padded after Robin, a thought came to me. "Hey Robin," I said "I need to go home and check my messages. They've got me on call this weekend because of all the problems we've been having with the new computers, and my boss will be pretty irked if something comes up and he can't get a hold of me." "Well, if you have to." She groused good naturedly "If you'd rather go work than stay here and have fun with me…" She disappeared, a moment later to return with my clothes. "Here you go." Robin laughed, tossing them on the couch next to me.
After I returned from changing clothes, (and grabbing the can of green beans from the kitchen table) Robin met me by the door. "So," She said, "Would you like to come over and play again later?" "I don't know" I started, trying to put into words feelings I didn't understand myself "I feel kind of weird about the whole thing. I mean, I really enjoyed it, but I'm not sure if I'd like to do it again." "Whatever you feel is best." Robin said, looking genuinely saddened. "But hey, don't be a stranger, okay?" Then, giving me a little kiss on my muzzle, she tossed me my car keys, and I headed for home.
The next couple of days went by in a blur. The new network that had been installed was proving to be one of the biggest pieces of junk I had ever had the misfortune of administering. Just about anything that could possibly go wrong did, hardware, software, you name it. So I found myself putting in longer and longer hours, while everyone around me got more and more hostile about the situation.
I didn't run into Robin at work, partially because my huge workload kept me buried in the computer lab, but also because I was avoiding her to some degree. It's not that I was trying to be unfriendly, or that I felt she was a bad person or anything, it's just that I was confused by my feelings towards her. Deep down, it had really felt good to have Robin holding me and telling me everything was going to be all right. She had conveyed a sense of caring and security that I lacked in my life. And I knew that I really wanted to be with her again. But I was having trouble reconciling that with the way I thought of myself. I never really pictured myself as needing someone to take care of me. I was always the self-reliant problem solver. For better or worse my problems at work kept me occupied enough that I didn't dwell on it, and as the days passed, I put it out of my mind.
My problems at work reached the breaking point a week later. I had finally figured out the underlying problem with the network. The manufacturing company, in order to save money had used second rate networking cards, which, I discovered, would overheat under certain conditions, causing the intermittent problems. Which was why I was having such a hard time duplicating the errors on a test machine. I dutifully sent a report the manager, telling him that it would require replacing the faulty components.
Arriving at work the next morning, I walked into my office to find Mr. Tiggrens waiting for me. "You're late" he snapped, by way of a greeting. "I'm sorry, I overslept. I've been putting in a lot of overtime this week, debugging the system. Besides" I said, glancing at my watch "I'm only a half-hour..." "Dammit" He started, cutting me off "This whole mess was your fault to begin with! If you'd have been doing your job instead of sleeping in you would have anticipated this problem. We don't have the inclination to wait on you anymore. Either have the issue resolved by this time tomorrow, or your contract will be terminated!" And with that, Mr. Tiggrens stormed out of my office.
Snapping into crisis mode, I immediately got on the phone with our vendors, ordering the necessary parts. By the time that they had arrived two hours later, I had a general strategy of what I could do to keep my job. "I can't just drop the whole system until after business hours, but I can take individual departments down one at a time until then." I thought to myself "If I start now and work through the night, I might actually be able to pull this off."
As the day wore on, It became more and more obvious that one fox couldn't possibly do the entire thing in a day. But what choice did I have? By the time the office had cleared out for the night, I was in a state of numbness. "I'm going to be fired. I'm going to be fired." Kept running through my mind like a mantra. It was impossible, I simply didn't have enough time. A person can only run on caffeine and will power for so long, and late that night I simply shut down. Sitting amid a pile of discarded static bags and stacks of computers I fell asleep.
I awoke to the sounds of the usual morning office bustle. "What in the world am I…Oh crap." I thought as the events of yesterday (or this morning, depending on your point of view) came back to me. Deciding that it would be best to find Mr. Tiggrens and try to explain the situation to him, I did my best to comb out my fur with my fingers, then went looking for my boss.
I ran into him a short while later in the hallway. "You didn't get it done, did you?" he started before I could say anything. "No, not completely," I replied, somewhat flustered. This was not how I had hoped the conversation would go. "But I'll have it done by the end of the day." "That's not good enough." He answered "I told you to have it resolved before this morning if you wanted to keep working here." "But this wasn't my fault" I pleaded "It was a pre-existing condition from the hardware manufacturer. You can't possibly hold me responsible for something I had no control over."
"That's not the issue" Mr. Tiggrens began. "You see, I assured upper management that I would have this problem fixed by now. And because it isn't fixed, they are going to be quite unhappy, and this incident is going to make me look bad. However, if I were to fire the employee who was responsible for fixing the system, and then wrote in their exit review that the mess was not only caused by their oversights, but the lateness of the repairs was also due to their irresponsibility, then it would no longer be my fault. Of course, you are going to have a hell of a time finding a new job with that on your record, but then that's no skin off my ass, now is it?" "And the great thing is" he continued, laughing "we were looking to reduce headcount anyway."
As I watched Mr. Tiggrens walk off, I felt numb. "I can't believe this is happening to me…" I mumbled. Not being able to think of anything else to do, I turned around and began to slowly walk back out to the parking lot. My insides were churning as I headed through the door, I felt like I was going to completely lose it at any minute. "Just let me get out of here without breaking down" I thought to myself desperately "Let me leave with my dignity."
I got to the car before I started sniffling, and somehow made it back home. By the time I arrived at my house, I was a complete mess. I didn’t care what people thought anymore, all I wanted was to go inside and shut the world out. Running to the house, I fumbled the key in the lock, let myself in, then collapsed on the floor in the living room.
Robin hadn't seen Nick in close to a week, and she was beginning to get a little bit worried about him. He had a tendency of not knowing when to step back and take a break for a minute, and with the computer problems the company had been having lately, she thought that he might be needing someone to drop by and remind him to come up for air every now and then. Reaching a decision, Robin headed over to Nick's office.
Walking down the hallway, she saw that there were two felines arguing outside Nick's office. One of them was his manager, and Robin thought she recognized the other from a presentation she had given to the board of directors a few weeks ago. Even from a few yards down the hallway, Robin could tell that the director looked absolutely livid. Her tail was twitching furiously, and her eyes were narrowing to slits as she confronted Mr. Tiggrens. Deciding that getting caught up in whatever storm was brewing was a decidedly bad idea, Robin ducked into a nearby restroom, pretending not to have seen the pair.
Listening through the door, Robin could make out some of the conversation. "Just what in the world were you thinking?" the woman was hissing "That was the absolute pettiest damned thing I've ever seen in my life! I've been keeping an eye on the computer problems, and he's been working himself into the ground trying to get our equipment up on schedule." "I was merely…" Mr. Tiggrens started to say "Don’t even start with that crap!" The woman cut him off. "I heard your little conversation this morning. You were ready to hang that guy out to dry just so you wouldn't look bad." Then, continuing in a quiet, utterly deadly tone "As long as we are looking to reduce headcount, let's start here. You're fired. Get out."
Then, hearing someone stomping off, Robin looked out into the hallway. Mr. Tiggrens was gone, and the woman he had been arguing with was disappearing into Nick's office. Following quickly after her, Robin stopped, and knocked lightly on the doorframe. "Um, excuse me Mrs.," she started nervously "have you seen Nick?" Seeing the worried expression on the face of the wolf in the doorway, the feline's expression lightened somewhat. "What did you need him for?" she asked calmly. "I hadn't seen him in a couple of days" Robin explained "and when he gets involved in a project, sometimes he needs someone to remind him to take a rest every now and then. So I thought I should come over and check on him." "I'm Mrs. Russell, from corporate." The woman started slowly "there was a bit of an…incident with his boss this morning, and he left before I could straighten things out. He looked like he took things pretty hard, and I haven't been able to get a hold of him on the phone since then." "Would it be okay if I took off for a little bit to go over to his house and make sure he's okay?" Robin asked hesitantly. Taking in the wolf's concern, Mrs. Russell nodded, deciding that it would probably be a good idea. Nick had looked like he was having a nervous breakdown when she had seen him rush out of the office, and Mrs. Russell got the distinct impression that Robin wasn't going to be able to accomplish much until she made sure her friend was okay anyway. "If you catch up with him, tell him to take the rest of the day off, and give me a call tomorrow." Mrs. Russell answered, handing Robin a business card on her way down the hall.
Pulling up at Nick's house, Robin saw that his car was in the driveway. "Oh good." She thought, sighing a little with relief. Walking up to the house, she noticed that the front door was slightly ajar. "Nick? Are you home?" Robin called out, feeling a little bit silly. Then, she heard someone crying in the living room. Following the sound, she found Nick, curled up in a corner.
Lying there crying, I felt someone gently brush my cheek. Looking up, I saw that it was Robin. "What are you doing here?" I asked stupidly. "I came to make sure you were okay, silly." She answered quietly, sitting down next to me on the floor. "Mrs. Russell said that you had a bad day, and might need some cheering up." Curling up with my head on her lap, I started to relate the events of my day.
"…so I guess I'll have to start looking for another job." I finished, feeling a little bit better after talking about it. "Well, I've got a bit of good news for you" Robin started, smiling widely "Apparently, Mr. Tiggrens' boss overheard the entire thing. So I wouldn't be too concerned with that job hunt. Mrs. Russell said that you should take the rest of the day off, and give her a call tomorrow to get her up to speed on the computer situation." "Oh." I sniffed, no longer really sure what was going on anymore.
Standing up, Robin got a box of tissues from the end table. "Now, why don't you come with me?" "What are you going to do?" I asked hesitantly, taking a tissue from the box and wiping my nose. "I'm going to be your mommy." She smiled, looking down at me. "You don't watch out for yourself. Nobody can keep up a work schedule like that, it's unhealthy. When was the last time you actually had some time off anyway? Since you can't seem to take care of yourself, I'm going to do it for you." "Besides," Robin laughed "You really enjoyed being my kit last weekend, didn't you?"
"Well," I started, somewhat reluctantly "I did like having someone to take care of me. And I really do like you a lot…" at this Robin grinned knowingly. Maybe my feelings towards her had been a bit more obvious than I had thought "But I just can't help feeling that all this is really…" "Different?" Robin finished. "So what? I mean what's wrong with that? You like it, and I like it, and we aren't hurting anybody, so why worry about it?" "You're right." I said simply. "Of course I'm right, silly boy." She joked. "Now come on, after this morning you probably would benefit from a nap."