a story by
(c) 1998 by Chris Yost. All rights to story content reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, Tabitha, Carli, and Tammy Vixen (c) Eric W. Schwartz. Character Roxikat (c) John Barrett. Character Thomas Woolfe (c) Michael Higgs. Characters Chris Foxx, Susan Felin, Cindy Lapine, Amy Squirrel, Clarence Skunk, Dexter Collie, Angel Collie, and Wendy Vixxen (c) Chris Yost. Character Florence Ambrose (c) Mark Stanley. Character ZigZag (c) Max BlackRabbit. All rights to additional characters reserved by their respective owners. Story based on characters and situations created by Eric W. Schwartz.Windows95 (TM) Microsoft Corp. Amiga (TM) Gateway Computers.
"So," Sabrina asked as she sat on the couch, "nervous about meeting my folks tomorrow?"
"Me? Nervous?" Chris sat beside her, putting the present on his lap and an arm around her shoulder. "Remember who you're talking too, Kitten!"
"You're nervous, aren't you?" Sabrina asked with a smile.
Sabrina laughed. "Don't be! They're both anxious to meet you. So's Tabitha; every time I call home she asks 'When's Chris coming? When's Chris coming?'" She stood up again. "Here, I'll show you where you can put her present."
"That's in the car, Kitten." Chris handed the present up to her. "This is for you."
Sabrina blinked and took the package with a surprised "Thank you." She swiped into the wrapping and tore it to shreds, and just as quickly slowed and held the package carefully, almost tenderly. "Oh, my! I haven't seen one of these since I was a teenager! He's a classic!"
"See?" Chris pointed through the cellophane. "You can change him from a robot to a truck, and then build the trailer. I wouldn't open it, it comes in about 1,000 pieces."
"Oh, thank you!" Sabrina gently set her gift down before she threw her arms around Chris and kissed him over and over. "I always wanted one of these! Where ever did you find one?"
"Yard sale," Chris answered her. "Whoever got it must not have liked it and didn't know what it was worth. It's in near-mint condition, even thought the box is just a little rougnnnmmmmmm ... "
Sabrina kissed him again. "You're the best."
"Only wanna make my girlfriend happy. Tabitha's gift is in the car still."
"C'mon, let's go get it and you can put it with my gift for her."
Sabrina took Chris' hand and they ran downstairs to Chris' car. Sabrina looked in the back seat and slowed ... "What in the world ... ?"
Chris grinned. "She said she wanted a plushie, so ... "
"That's not a plushie," Sabrina said, staring at what was taking up two-thirds of the Chris' back seat, "that's a sister!"
"You don't think she'll like it?"
"Oh, she'll love it! Now you're spoiling her!"
"A guy meeting his fiancée's parents needs every edge he can get," Chris told her.
"Chris, they'll love you!" Sabrina slid her arm into Chris'. "You'll be fine."
Chris shrugged. "I can't help it," he said. "Typical Male Paranoia rearing its ugly head."
"Well, quit." Sabrina tugged. "C'mon, I'll help you get it out."
Sabrina was met with a grin.
"Oh!" Chris kissed Sabrina and slipped his arm free. He zipped to the driver's side while Sabrina walked over to the passenger side and slid the seat all the way up. Chris climbed in the back and tilted the plushie while Sabrina tilted the seat forward, took hold, and pulled carefully by the head and Chris pushed its bottom. It stuck behind the seat, and with one good pull it and Sabrina went backwards and landed on the sidewalk.
"Kitten?" Chris called out, "you all right?"
Sabrina rubbed her own bottom. "Only hurt my pride," she called back. It was then she saw her vision was half blurred. "My contact!"
Chris worked his way out of his car, threw his door closed, and ran over to Sabrina. She was feeling around, her face close to the ground, patting her paws around where she thought it might have landed. He dropped to his knees and helped feel around.
Sabrina looked up. Chris' car and hers were half in focus. So were the buildings across the street. So was Chris.
"This is terrible," she complained. "Where did it go?"
They felt around the sidewalk, Sabrina with her right eye closed so she could see clearly on one side. A surprised yell caught both of their attentions when Chris backed up against a passing lady spaniel.
"Sorry," Chris apologized. "We're looking for a contact lens."
The spaniel nodded. "I can sympathize." Chris grinned uneasily and returned to looking. The lady set her grocery bag down and knelt, looking near the street.
"Could it have landed in your car?" she asked.
Chris turned. "Good place to look." He crawled over and felt over the bucket seat and through the carpeting. He closed the door and found a male otter.
"Lost contact?" he asked.
In the next few minutes the four began attracting attention from passers-by who were slowing down to watch and getting perilously close to the parked cars and each other.
"Did anyone think to check the plushie?" the otter asked.
Sabrina felt her one-eyed way toward the plushie and carefully ran her fingers over the tip of the nap. The spaniel held it for her and she felt. Chris kept an eye on them and the otter slid his own paw over the curb.
A collective sigh as everyone stood. "Thanks everybody, I really appreciate all your help!"
The two wished them well and went on their way. Chris picked up Tabitha's plushie. "Ah, it's all dirty and everything," Sabrina said, looking through her one good eye.
Chris placed a paw on her back. "We'll get it cleaned." And they walked up the steps to the front door.
And Sabrina looked closer at the lens, the color and the feel. "Hey! This isn't my contact lens!"
Not that Amy was ever shy or anything, at home she always had the habit of wearing her robe when she walked through the apartment in the wee hours. Beside her, Thomas had been sound asleep, the emphasis on "sound"; Amy couldn't sleep a wink. Shifting and rolling herself to get out of bed didn't bother him a bit, he snored and slept right through it.
Amy felt her way in the moonlit bedroom to the door and walked toward the kitchen. She jumped when she came through the living room and saw the half-lit figure sitting on the edge of the couch.
"Hey there," Amy said.
Chris looked up. "Oh! Morning." Self-consciously, he pulled his own robe closer together.
"You and Sabrina fighting already?" Amy asked with a grin, slipping her hands into her pockets.
"Hm?" Her words registered, and Chris chuckled. "Nah. Just a little trouble sleeping."
"Let's form a club." Amy stepped over and sat next to Chris. "How loud does Sabrina snore?"
"She doesn't!" Chris laughed. He sat back a bit. "I guess I'm just anxious about meeting her parents."
"Ah! Been there." Amy angled herself toward Chris. "Sabrina's parents are great, two of the nicest people I've ever known. You're going to love them."
Chris nodded. "But will they love me?" Chris scooted to the edge of the couch again. "I know it's stupid. But I can't help it. I'm ... "
"Nervous?" Amy asked.
But Chris, despite his nodding, refused to use the word. " ... anxious." He folded one paw over the other in his lap. "I've never felt this way about anyone before, not to this extent. Sabrina's beautiful, generous, caring ... "
Amy smirked. "I think the word you're looking for is 'perfect'."
Another nod. "She is. She's perfect. I mean, she's not really sexy, but she's sensual, with her glasses and ... " Chris sighed. "Listen to me, I'm rambling. I can't help myself."
"You've got a lot to ramble about." Amy picked a swathe of hair from her eye. "You two got a date set yet?"
"Not yet," Chris admitted. "We're thinking May or June of next year."
"A June wedding." Amy sat back and sighed. "I always wanted one of those." She patted her tummy. "'course, I never expected to be pregnant when I got married, either."
"That's no problem," Chris told her. "It just means everyone'll throw puffed rice."
Amy forgot herself and laughed out loud! It carried to the ears of her sleeping roommate, who opened an eye.
"You're something else," Amy said, smiling. "It's no wonder Sabrina always talks about you."
Chris looked at her as she pushed herself up again. "All good, I hope," he said, helping her.
"Naturally! I gotta admit to you, I was scared for her when she first got interested in you. I hear stuff about people meeting on the Internet and … well, she showed me I was wrong, and I'm glad for her."
"Remember, Amy," Chris pointed out, "whatever it was you'd thought, you could've just as easily have been right. IRC's a funny place sometimes, but it's also a fun place, and sometimes it pays off. It sure did for Sabrina and me, anyway."
"You really love her."
"No," Chris contradicted her, "I'm crazy about her. I'd give anything I own for her. She's the most special person in my life. I can't screw up tomorrow!"
Amy gave Chris a pat on the leg. "That's the last thing you need to worry about." She stood up. "I'm putting on some water for tea. Want some?"
Chris shook his head and stood up. "Thank you, but I'm going to go back to bed, hopefully to sleep." He took a step around her. "Thanks for listening."
Amy smiled. "Anytime."
Neither of them heard the padding of feet running up the hall and ducking into Sabrina's bedroom. Chris managed a yawn and walked in, dropping his dressing gown on the chair and finding his way to bed, slipping in carefully beside Sabrina under the covers.
Sabrina rolled over. "Hey, handsome," she purred.
Sabrina slid closer and cuddled him.
"Did I wake you?" Chris asked.
I'm not sure who did! "Nah," she said, "I was just thinking about you." And she smiled.
Chris and Sabrina put an arm around each other. Sabrina kissed him, first on his closed muzzle, then opened. She cuddled closer. And eventually they fell asleep together.
Chris' new habit was to drive with his right paw on the gear shift knob. This allowed Sabrina to set her left paw over his, and they rode along together with their fingers interlocked. When they finally arrived at her parent's house, Chris had to park around the block from the cars that brought the other kids to Tabitha's birthday party.
Sabrina took Chris' hand from the knob and held it. She could feel his palm. "You've got to stop being so nervous!" Sabrina told him. "They're just my parents! People, like you and me."
Chris nodded. "You're right. I know you're right." He squeezed her hand.
Sabrina leaned over and kissed him. "Take a deep breath."
"And for heaven's sake, take off the tie! This is a children's party!"
Chris undid his necktie and tossed it into the back seat.
Sabrina adjusted his collar. "And remember how much I love you." She kissed him again, hard, then broke the kiss and smiled. "Now, shall we go in?"
Sabrina stroked her paw over the back of Chris' head. Chris took another breath. "Let's go." Chris ran around to let Sabrina out. This time, when Sabrina fell backwards with the plushie, she picked her glasses up from her lap and put them back on, Chris helped her up, and they carried their presents to the house.
The sounds of children yelling bled through the front door. With a smile and a cringe in Chris' direction, Sabrina opened the door and led the way in.
The kids were in an intense game of running around and singing the tail end of Happy Birthday in the dining room. Tabitha was standing on the chair at the head of the table straightening her party hat, and as soon as the song was done she blew her candles out. The kids were cheering! Tabitha hopped down, her mom and another's started cutting cake and scooping ice cream.
Sabrina led the way. Chris put the massive plushie behind his back and followed.
Tabitha saw them and went running. "Sa-beena!" she yelled. She stood in front of them, her hands behind, bouncing on the balls of her feet.
"Happy birthday." Sabrina squatted and gave her a hug and her present. "Tabitha, say hello to Chris."
"Hi Kiss!" Tabitha yelled.
"Hi Tabitha!" Chris yelled back.
The kids all heard and laughed. Tabitha kept darting her head back and forth, trying to look behind Chris' back. Chris kept turning himself forth and back blocking her, until he finally handed her the plushie. "Happy birthday, Tabitha," he said to her.
"Woooooooow!" Tabitha took the plushie and set it on the floor. It came up to her neck. "Thanks, Kiss!" she said.
The other kids all ooo'ed and awww'ed. But Tabitha still announced it: "Hey everyone, I got a plushie!"
She took her sister's present, then picked up and tried to carry it and the plushie over to her gift pile, turning sideways and teetering. In an effort to save both, her best friend's mother helped her carry them. When the kids were caked and ice creamed, Sabrina's mother came over.
"Mom," Sabrina said, "this is Chris. Chris, my mom Endora."
Chris took her hand. "Nice to meet you," he said the best he could.
"We've heard an awful lot about you, Chris," Endora told him. "It's nice to finally meet you. Would you two like some cake and ice cream?"
"Sure," Sabrina spoke for them both. It seemed to help Chris relax; she watched him methodically eat the cake from between the rows of icing as he and the adults talked pleasantly, then eat the icing.
Sabrina ate and watched. She saw Endora was her usual polite self, she seemed to ask all of the right questions amidst the flying shreds of gift-wrap. Sabrina had to admit she was a little relieved too, but more for Chris' sake.
"Sabrina," Endora said to her, "your father's in the den. Why don't you go introduce Chris to him."
She looked at Chris as his eyes widened, but only just a bit. "Okay, Mom," she said. She and Chris left their empty plates on the table and Sabrina took Chris upstairs.
At the top of the stairwell she stopped him. "Remember," she told him, "he's just another guy."
"Dad?" Sabrina poked her head in.
"Hello Sabrina!" Her dad put down the newspaper and stood up to meet her.
"Daddy, this is Chris Foxx. Chris, Dad."
They shook hands, each man impressed with the other's grip. "Nice to finally get to meet you," he said. He turned to his daughter. "Sabrina, why don't you go down and help your mother. Tell her we'll be along shortly."
"'kay." She smiled at Chris and let herself out of the room.
Chris' stomach tied itself into a knot. He turned back to her father. "Call me Sarge," he said. "Everyone calls me Sarge."
"Oh," Chris said. "Were you in the military?"
"Nope. Have a seat." He extended his paw toward the couch. Chris took a seat, and Sarge sat in his favorite chair across and facing him. He folded his paper and put it on the end table.
"Calm down, Chris," he started. "I just want to get to know you better. Sabrina tells me you have something to do with one of the networks."
Chris finally smiled. "Well, not exactly," he said. "I work with computer networks. I set them up so they can communicate with each other."
"Way above my head."
Chris took the next several minutes and gave Sarge a thumbnail idea of how a computer network works. By the time he was finished, Sarge was even more confused than he was before Chris had begun.
"You sound like you really know your subject," Sarge said. "But back to the original subject.
"Understand, Sabrina's my eldest daughter; I love her tremendously. I need to know you can keep her in the lifestyle to which she's become accustomed. And I think you've proven that to me."
"Thank you, I did my best." Chris couldn't stifle a small laugh. "She means the world to me, too, Sir."
Sarge rolled his eyes.
"I actually hope I'll be able to keep her better than she's become accustomed," Chris told Sarge. "I've made a good name for myself in the industry, and I can definitely take care of her. Between us both working for my company, she'll wont for nothing."
Chris' upbeat attitude was at odds with the furrowed brow Sarge Mustelidae kept. It never changed; Chris didn't know Sarge had been practicing it most of the morning. So, at this point, he decided the most direct approach was the best.
"I love her, Sarge."
Sarge looked Chris over. Chris tried to keep from swallowing and giving away his anxiety. He felt his glasses slowly slide down his nose and he refused to give them the satisfaction of pushing them back up.
Sarge brought his foot up and slid the small ottoman toward Chris.
"Put your feet up," he said, "and tell me more about yourself."
Sabrina poured a cola and handed it to a little rabbit doe. She looked up at the clock, then at her mother. "What in the world could they be talking about up there?" she asked.
"Anything and everything," Endora said. "Chris looked scared when I suggested meeting your father. Was he?"
Sabrina nodded. "Yep."
"He didn't need to be." Endora sat down for the first time all day. "You don't need our consent you know; you're a grown woman, and we're not going to interfere with you when you make a decision of your own heart. He seems like a very nice man, too."
"Mom, he is!" Sabrina sat in a chair next to her while the kids formed a circle in the living room and played Hot Potato. "He's incredible. Even better than the pink U-Drive-It Corvette toy you and dad wouldn't buy me when I was Tabitha's age. And I wanted that Corvette, too."
"You have no idea how much that stupid toy cost!" Endora told Sabrina. "We got you what we could, and you always picked the most expensive toys as the ones you wanted."
Sabrina grinned. "You mean like Tabitha does."
"Oh, you all do it. You don't remember, but when ... " It was then they heard the sound of male laughter and chatter coming from the stairwell. Endora touched Sabrina's arm. "Looks as though we were right again," she said. "Your father liked him."
Sabrina's smile was automatic, she couldn't contain it. As her father and her fiancé came into the dining room she beamed. She stood up and said to Chris "I guess you two hit it off."
"We sure did," her father told her. "Only we've got to get this boy straightened out! Buffalo has a much better team than Pittsburgh."
"Pittsburgh has some tremendous offense!" Chris exclaimed. "Probably the best in the NHL."
"Sure, if you can keep your winger from pulling his groin every other game," Sarge told him. "Now Buffalo, you've got a goaltender who doesn't play from the blue line ... "
"Maybe, but we've got players who shoot from the blue line! And when Buffalo learns how to protect the five-hole, then we can talk defense."
"C'mon, defense! Pittsburgh hasn't had a decent defense since 1992, and that was sheer luck winning the Cup that year."
"Oh, luck my foot! The only reason that series ... "
Endora and Sabrina exchanged looks, shook their heads, and laughed to each other. And said together, "Typical." Then Endora got up and hugged her daughter. "Congratulations on your upcoming marriage."
Sabrina hugged her tight while one of the remaining parents answered the doorbell. "Thanks, Mom." Then she turned back to the argument and interrupted it. "I see you two found common ground!"
"Common!" Sarge exclaimed. "Why, ever since his team changed their logo -- "
The commotion of another guest was ringing through to the dining room and over the renewed -- well, discussion -- between Chris and Sarge. A grey cat in a T-shirt and sport coat walked through carrying Tabitha.
"Hello, all!" he said. "Y'know something? I was talking to that guy on the couch for five minutes before I realized it was a plushie."
"Eric!" Sabrina ran up and hugged him.
"Wow!" Eric said. "That's the kind of welcome I like." He reached out and shook hands with Sarge.
"Where on earth have you been?" Sabrina asked.
"Big convention in Valley Forge, PA," Eric explained. "Had a great time. And I had to get back because I'd never forget this girl's birthday!"
"What'd ya bring me?" Tabitha asked.
"Just you wait and see!" He set Tabitha down and handed her a present. Everyone dodged the paper shrapnel as she tore the wrapping away.
Sabrina took his arm and steered him toward Chris. "Eric," she said, "I want you to meet my fiancé Chris Foxx. Chris, this is Eric Schwartz, the guy who created me."
The two men shook hands. "This is an honor," Chris said. "I couldn't wait to meet you."
"Good meeting you," Eric said. "She's said a lot of -- fiancé!?"
"Yes," Sabrina explained, "that was the news I told you I had on your answering machine. Chris proposed to me and I accepted!"
The expression Eric had as their handclasp loosened altered slightly. "Oh, uh, great," he said. Then, "That's great! You two, uh, have a date in mind yet?"
Chris shook his head, but let Sabrina do the talking. "We're looking at May of next year, I think," she said. "You know how I love the spring."
"We just met him today ourselves," Sarge told Eric. "Sabrina's getting a fine man."
Eric's smile was awkward. "Yeah, I'm sure she is."
Endora patted Sabrina's shoulder. "Sabrina," she said, "help me clean up some of this stuff, please. Eric, there's a very large piece of cake with your name on it!"
"Endora, I could never turn down your cake."
And a plate was promptly thrust into his hand. Tabitha had lured Chris into the Hot Potato game, and Sarge returned to his den and his crossword puzzle in the paper. Eric ate his cake silently, watching the game, the clean-up, the kids who hadn't gone home yet playing.
And Chris was just as much a kid as the kids were. He played with them, dog-piled with them, sang their silly songs with them. And Eric shook his head and smiled, and quietly moved to a discreet corner to tug on his tail and dislodge his underwear.
Chris came out of the bunch laughing right along with them. He poured himself a coffee. "God, they're great kids," he said.
"I'm afraid I don't know any of them," Eric confessed. "Except for Tabitha, of course."
Eric set his empty plate down and drank at his coffee. "So, you and my Sabrina, married."
Chris grinned. "Yep. And I have you to thank for it."
Eric nodded. "I just wish she'd said something to me first," he said quietly.
Chris swallowed his mouthful. "It wasn't possible," he explained. "We got caught up in the heat of a moment, the proposal came out, and so did her acceptance. Oh, not to worry, I did it properly the next day … "
"Oh, I'm sure you did," Eric said. He lowered his voice some. "It's only that Sabrina's comic strip has a set path, and with the momentum it's enjoying now, this whole proposing thing is, well, not really well-timed."
Chris felt that knot in his stomach again. "Eric ... may I call you Eric?"
Eric nodded. "Please."
"You're not turning me down, are you?"
Eric began fiddling with his near-empty styrofoam cup.
"Eric, you can't."
"Well," Eric said, "Actually I can ... "
Chris felt his heart begin to climb into his neck. "Please, you can't, I'm asking you. I love Sabrina. Sabrina loves me. Her parents love me. I can't imagine anything coming between us, I can't. I won't."
Chris put a hand on Eric's shoulder. "Eric, I'm not asking you. I'm begging you. Please, we need your blessing too, just as much as we need Mom and Dad's."
Eric frowned. His tail was nearing the floor. "You realize what kind of a spot you two put me in?" he asked Chris. "I get messages from guys frequently, asking to be just her boyfriend, with reasons just as valid as yours."
"But they don't love her a tenth as much as I do! It's impossible. The love I have for her runs so deep ... I know it sounds cliched, but it's true. I love Sabrina. I'll make her a good husband."
Sabrina came back to the dining room. "Hey, high-level discussion, can I interrupt?" She slid her arm into Chris'. "Mind if I steal Chris away for a bit, Boss?"
"No, of course not." Eric drained his cup. "Hey, Sabrina, we're having a meeting Monday morning, nine-ish."
"No problem." She let go of Chris long enough to hug Eric and kiss him. "I really wanted you to be the first to know," she whispered in his ear. Eric grinned, and saw the look on Chris' muzzle. Then he smiled wider to Sabrina. "I want you to be happy, Sab," he said.
"I couldn't have done it without you." She returned to Chris' arm and led him through the kitchen and out the back door.
Dusk was falling. Sabrina led Chris through the back yard. She leaned against him as they strolled, taking in the evening air.
"Nervous time is over," Sabrina told him. "What do you think of everybody?"
"Fantastic people," Chris said. "Your dad's a little misguided about hockey teams, but he'll come around."
Sabrina laughed. "He was born in Blasdell, New York," she told him. "And that's good enough for him."
"Ah, we'll straighten him out."
They walked down toward the property line where there was a large rock sitting. "Dad keeps threatening to have this taken away." Sabrina climbed up onto it. "I hope he never does. It's perfect for watching the stars."
Sabrina pulled one leg up and held it with both arms. She stared into the heavens. "I love watching stars," she said, "and sunsets. This is a perfect spot right here."
Chris ran his hand over her back. "I suppose I could arrange to have it brought to Pennsylvania."
"Nah. It wouldn't be the same." She smiled and looked with wonder into the thousand points of light overhead. "Let's keep everything just as it is now. Perfect."
Chris rubbed her shoulders and stared into the same stars. "Perfect."
Back in the house, Eric watched his Sabrina and Chris. He sipped his fresh coffee, then shook his head.
"I really wish you would've told me first."