A Roo'd Awakening: Chapter Eight (Part 2)

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You feel like an idiot at your choice in words given what just went down fifteen minutes ago, but she seems too out of it to pick up on it. After a few more seconds of your brisk pace, you finally reach your car, struggling a bit to reach down and fish your keys out of your pockets. You manage after a couple more attempts, and you start to become acutely aware of your hands trembling from both the cold and the remnants of adrenaline coursing through you as you try to insert it into the passenger door’s lock. Once you manage to get it unlocked, you swing it open before gently dropping her into the seat and closing it behind you as you beeline for the driver’s side. You curse under your breath as you have trouble getting the key into this side as well, and you practically dive inside when you manage to get the door the slightest bit open. You don’t waste any time, your hands not failing you when they’re not at the mercy of the elements as you quickly start up the car, the familiar rumble and sounds of the cold engine giving you a more than welcome backdrop to distract yourself from your thoughts.

With one hand, you reach out to crank the heating up to max, thankful it actually works, which is a lot more than you can say about the AC. Your other hand reaches to the left of your steering wheel to fiddle with the vent and point the steady stream of hot air towards your face, a shiver ripping through you as the heat washes over you. You look to your right and find her fiddling with her vent as well, the urge to say something rising within you when you see her ears twitching as the tip of her tail swings about so unpredictably you’re almost worried it’s going to hit you. A sort of lightheadedness hits you out of left field, and you find yourself leaning back in your seat before taking a series of drawn-out, deep breaths to beat back the strange feeling in your stomach. After you're confident you're starting to come down from your adrenaline high, you look to your side only to find Ruby staring back at you, one of her paws over her stomach as she slings a cute, if a little strained, half-smile your way. Once again, your instincts to protect flare up and you scooch a bit closer to her to say something without having to raise your voice too much.

“Are you feeling alright Rub-”

“You alright, Mik-”

The two of you start to speak your concerns in tandem, and your smile only widens at how in sync the two of you are sometimes, even if completely by accident. Ruby's nose flares a tiny bit as her quiet, yet still endearing laughter starts to fill the nearly dead air, replacing the low drone of the engine as the dominant noise. It's practically contagious, but you don't resist, soon finding yourself starting to laugh alongside her, grinning like a dork when you hear her snort as her laugh grows more and more out of control. It doesn't take long for your own to grow in intensity, though you hunch over slightly when you feel a sharp pain shooting through your abdomen as a result, and you bring a hand up to your stomach to rub at it a bit. Despite the pain, it feels cathartic to laugh and smile together in earnest after that narrowly prevented tragedy, her bouncing leg a telltale sign that she's still wound up like a coiled spring. It takes her a little while longer to stop, but it doesn't bother you in the slightest, her cute laugh with snorts peppered in between rejuvenating your tired body. You stare into those cute amber pools as she comes down from her little laughing fit, the heating pushing loose strands of that hazelnut brown hair into her eyes as she tries her best to blow them away before tucking them up and behind one of her ears.

"You first," she chuckles softly, letting out a small grunt into the air as she adjusts herself to face you, a pained smile on her face as she lays on her side. "Probably better at the whole... talking thing than I am right now anyways."

"Just-" you say, still sort of entranced by how beautiful she looks despite the circumstances. "Wanted to ask if you're feeling alright.”

"Better, for sure. Stomach kind of hurts and I think I might've pulled something in my shoulder, stings a little whenever I move my arm," she says, a deep breath leaving her as her splayed out hand reaches out past the center console and towards your own. “Can’t stop thinking about what would’ve happened if you hadn’t been spotting me.”

You reach out to envelop her hand with your much larger one, still feeling some remnants of the cold as you dig your fingers into her fur and touch the squishy, if slightly rough paw pads underneath. As you start to tighten your grip, she returns the gesture in kind by stroking your bare skin with her thumb, the contrast in both temperature and texture making a shudder rip through you, something she seems to take notice of judging by her reaction.

“I know you’re not reckless, Ruby. You wouldn’t have done it without one,” you say as you let the much needed warmth continue to wash over you. “You want me to take a look at your arm right now?”

She shakes her head, tightening her grip a little more as she does. “Think I’ll be fine until we get home and get some ice on it. And yeah, maybe but… I feel like such a goddamn moron for not taking your advice.”

“Hey, it’s not like I’m right all the time,” you chuckle, returning the favor by stroking her hand with your thumb as well. “Only most of the time. We should get going though, don’t want to be out on these roads when it’s pitch black.”

“Dork,” she mutters, nudging you slightly as she lets out a long yawn. “You’re right though. Are you uh, going to… maybestaythenightagain?”

The words come quickly but at this point you’re more than used to her hurried speech when she’s embarrassed, flashing her a little smile as you slowly come to sit upright, not letting go of her hand all the while. “Sure, if you don’t mind sharing a bed with a dork again. Gotta make a really quick stop at my place though. Need to grab my uniform just in case I need to come in tomorrow.”

“That’s fine, I don’t mind waiting,” she says, stretching a free hand as she yawns again. “Feels like if I close my eyes I’m just going to fall asleep here.”

“Well don’t fall asleep just yet,” you laugh, slowly and regrettably having to unlock your fingers from her warm, fuzzy grasp. “Unfortunately, I need that hand to drive.”

She quickly gets the memo and lets go of your hand, but you’re confident she doesn’t need it as much anymore after your reassurances, if the growing smile dotting her features is anything to go by, the tinge of blush on the thinnest part of her ear only confirming it.

“Get your seatbelt on,” you say to her as you fiddle with the CD player, throwing on some ambient music for the night drive home.

Once you find the right track, you put the e-brake down and quickly pull out of the parking spot before setting off for your place, your mind buzzing with thoughts and ideas as you try and focus on the road. Some part of you wishes you didn’t have to make the stop just to get her home quicker, and for a moment you entertain the idea of just taking a gamble on having to come into work tomorrow since it’s snowing heavily already. The more rational side of you stomps that idea out like a fresh cigarette butt, not wanting tomorrow to be anywhere near as tiring and complicated as this day's already been. The rest of the drive is slow and uneventful, doing your best to be careful with the limited visibility and traction on the way to your place. Before long, you’re parked in front of the building and you look to your side to find her sitting perfectly still. A hint of panic wells up in you for a split second before being extinguished by the realization that she probably just fell asleep on the way here.

“Ruby?” you whisper, reaching over to shake her slightly, almost jumping back yourself when she flinches hard. “We’re here, do you want to watch the car or come up with me?”

She rubs at one of her eyes as she seemingly struggles to bring herself to make eye contact, her hands grabbing at her tail as you hear the telltale sound of a gulp. "Actually Mike, would you mind if I uh... stayed? The night, I mean? Just feeling really wiped out, is all.

Her question isn't one you were expecting, much less in a day like this, and even though you wouldn't dream of saying no, you're feeling some butterflies in your stomach at the thought of her spending the night with you. There’s an expectant look in her eyes in between the fluttering of her lids, which only drives you to give her an answer.

"I don't mind at all, no," you smile, hoping the hesitation in your voice isn't anywhere near as bad as you imagine. "Just don't expect the kind of luxury you've got, alright? It's kind of a fun sized apartment."

“Can’t be that bad, mate,” you say, flashing you a drowsy smile as her head wavers for a moment. “Bet you keep the place in great shape.”

"Guess you're going to find out how true that is in a second, or two right?" you say, flashing her a slightly nervous smile before shutting off the car and cracking your door open. "You want some help getting out?

She nods fervently and you give her a small nod in return as you undo your seatbelt before heading back into the bitter cold, shutting and locking the car door behind you. You do your best to move to the other side quickly before your body really starts to realize how little layers you have on. By the time you get to the other side, she’s already waiting with the door open, and you stand close with arms outstretched for her to grab onto you again, bringing her into a bridal carry again before closing the door with a swift hip check, fumbling with your keys for a moment before you manage to fully secure your baby. You trudge towards the stairs leading up to your third floor apartment, occasionally looking down to smile at the way her ears twitch from the way you’ve chosen to carry her. Your heart starts to beat faster as you get up each flight of steps, only just starting to realize how exhausted you also are as you’re rounding the final set. You push through, and gently set her down when you finally get to your door, reaching down to fish out your keys.

As you try to unlock the door like you've done a million times before, you find yourself missing the lock as your hand trembles, the temperature and thought of showing her your little getaway weighing heavily on your nerves. It takes another few attempts before you manage to warm up your hands enough to get the key in, quickly opening the door and allowing her to step inside as you follow close behind.

“Well, welcome to uh, Casa del Mike,” you say as you step through the threshold, turning a light on before locking the door behind you. “It ain’t much, but it’s home.”

You’re suddenly thankful you decided to tidy up the place a bit before you headed out to buy those birthday gifts, not wanting her to see how careless you can get with the limited space sometimes. Her lack of comment worries you slightly as she continues to walk forward and scan your apartment.

“Looks pretty nice to me,” she says, turning around to flash you a smile that vaporizes all the worries that’d been building up. “Nice couch, big TV, what more can you ask for?”

“Don’t tell me what you think until you see the rest,” you laugh, directing your attention to the thermostat on the wall and cranking it up to a toasty eighty degrees. “Go grab a seat on the couch, I’ll get you an ice pack.”

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” she says, and you watch her hobble a bit on the way to the living room, a sight that makes you wince out of concern.

You can hear her slump onto the couch as you make your way towards the fridge, and once there, you fling the top door open and feel around in the dim light until you find your trusty ice pack. With it in hand, you reach for the clean wash towel sitting on the counter to wrap it in, not wanting her fur to get wet as it melts.

A squinted glance towards your living room shows a tired, close-eyed Ruby splayed out on the couch, one of her hands rubbing at her shoulder, trying to ease her pain as much as possible. You think about grabbing some of the menthol balm you have stashed in your bathroom for sore muscles, but you decide against it when you realize all it’d do is make a mess of her fur while having little to no effect. As you make your way towards the couch, you flick the lights on in anticipation of having to take a closer look at whatever's causing the pain.

You gently take a seat next to her so as to not startle her too much, giving her a light nudge as you hold out the wrapped pack. “Here you go. Hopefully it helps a little.”

Her eyes seem to snap open at the sound of your voice, and she sluggishly reaches for it, taking it from your hand before holding it to her shoulder. Ruby lets out a long sigh of what sounds like relief, but a part of you can't help but to be worried sick regardless, never having seen her this tired or out of it before.

“Mmh,” she mumbles as she starts to lean against you for support, her head nuzzling against your clothed bicep. “Thanks, Mike. Feels a lot better than without the ice pack for sure.”

Instinctively, you wrap an arm around her and bring her a little closer to you as you relax into both her and the couch, letting out a tired sigh of your own. On a cold fall night like this one, you’re thankful the heating actually works well for once, though you’re worried you might’ve cranked it up too high for someone with a thick coat of fur.

“Let me know if it’s getting a little too stuffy in here,” you say quietly as your hand idly strokes her other shoulder, digging your fingers in a tiny bit just to see if it causes her discomfort. “Not really used to thinking about fur.”

“Says the guy who can’t seem to get enough of it,” she says, wiggling and twitching against you before finally settling into a more comfortable position to be embraced by you. “And don’t worry, if I start sweating my ass off you’ll be the first to feel it.”

“Wait, do you guys actually… sweat?” you ask, cocking your head a bit as you continue to look down at her. “Always figured that was more of a figure of speech for you guys than anything.”

“Some of us can, some of us can't. Depends on the species, really,” she says as she moves her ice pack down a bit. “It’s nowhere close to how you guys get where you’re dripping head to toe, but I can definitely feel my paw pads and hands get slippery when I’m pushing myself.”

“Guess that explains why you and all the other anthros I’ve seen at the gym pant so loud,” you say, reaching up with a free hand to wipe your brow. “I imagine it’d be real shitty having damp fur all the time if you guys were like us.”

“Definitely didn’t help with that lift earlier,” she mutters, letting out a soft sight. “Can’t just wipe it off if it soaks into your fur and makes your hands all slippery. I feel like such a fuckin’ idiot for letting that shit happen when I could’ve just asked you for some of your chalk.”

You can’t help but wince when you watch her start to retreat into herself as she shakes her head silently. “Hey come on, you can’t just blame everything that happens on yourself, Ruby. I was there too and I didn’t say anything about the chalk either, so if you’re going to blame yourself then that makes me at least a little responsible too.”

“That’s-” she mutters before letting out a long sigh as she locks her gaze onto yours. “Don’t do that, Mike.”

“Do what?” you ask, cocking your head a little as you sit upright a bit.

“Take the blame for stuff you didn’t cause, dork,” she says so quietly you can barely hear her. “Look, I know you’re just trying to make me feel better but I know it’s all my fault. If I hadn’t gotten so cocky, if I’d just done a little less weight-”

“So what if you got a little overconfident on a lift?” you ask, cutting her self deprecation a bit short. “It happens. You learned what not to do next time, too.”

“You don’t get it, Mike,” she says, raising her tone a bit before letting out a sigh of what you can only read as exasperation. “If it wasn't for you, there wouldn't even be a next time. I could’ve crippled myself, or… or worse. You should be the last one blaming yourself, because you're the only reason I'm not at a hospital right now, Mike. Or in its basement.”

Her words are as heavy and sobering as a splash of ice cold water to the face, and you sit there in silence for a moment, trying to think of how to best respond to her. “I’m sorry, Ruby. I wasn’t trying to make light of it. I know it could’ve gone bad, but it didn’t and that’s all that matters to me.”

“I know, Mike,” she says, her voice a bit shaky as she leans the side of her snout into you more. “I just feel like shit for putting you through that. The way you shouted… and having all those people looking at you and muttering to themselves while you were trying to calm me down. Felt like I was in one of those nightmares you can’t wake up from.”

“I don’t care what those people think of me because of that, and neither should you,” you say, bringing her into an awkward sort of hug as you tighten your arm around her. “If they’re going to make a fuss about me throwing some weights around to save my girlfriend’s life then they’re not worth giving a shit about in the first place.”

“You’re right but I’d just rather have avoided all that in the first place,” she says, looking up at you and flashing you an apologetic smile. “Next time we go in I’ll talk to the trainers and tell them it wasn’t your fault. Don’t want you getting kicked out or something because of me.”

“I wouldn’t worry about that,” you say, returning a smile of your own in kind. “Don’t get me wrong, it means a lot to me, but I already talked to Dean and he told me he’d take care of it.”

“When did you…?” she asks, trailing in almost disbelief as she looks to you for an answer.

“He came up to me while you were still out of it, I’m not surprised you missed him,” you say, trying to get the image of a shaken Ruby out of your mind. “He’s more or less the second in command whenever the owner isn’t around, so I trust him.”

“Does make me feel a little better knowing you’re not in trouble,” she says, your heart fluttering a bit from the closeness as you watch her smile widen a bit. “And I know I’ve said it a million times already tonight, but thanks for saving me.”

“I’m glad,” you say, a feeling of relief washing over you knowing she’s feeling much better than before. “And eh, it’s nothing you wouldn’t have done for me in the same situation. You mind if I ask you something though?”

“Nah, shoot,” she says, switching the ice pack to her other shoulder. “Owe you as much for everything today.”

“What even made you want to lift that heavy in the first place?” you ask as you idly stroke her arm. “You’re usually pretty careful with adding weight, so what made you want to shoot for the stars today?”

You know something’s up the second she breaks eye contact to look at the ground, so you decide to give her some time rather than continuing to press her.

“I dunno… it’s going to sound kind of stupid,” she says, adjusting herself in a way so she can come to rest the back of her head in the crook of your elbow. “Promise you won’t laugh if I tell you?”

“Swear on my mom’s life,” you chuckle, as you continue to look down at the kangaroo desperately trying to avoid eye contact with you. “When have I ever laughed at you before?”

“Mmm…” she mumbles as she glances up at you again. “Guess you’re right. Still hard to explain though, it’s not just one thing. I was so caught up in all the nice things we did together this morning and then at the gym that I wasn’t really thinking straight. Felt kind of invincible because of it, and then hearing all those nice things you said about my strength just made that feeling way, way stronger. It’s still my fault for letting all that go to my head, but it’s the truth.”

You’re not sure what to think about her honest words, feeling both flustered and confused at what you’re hearing. A part of you is touched that she holds the time spent with you in such high regard, and another side of you is slightly embarrassed that she'd noticed the compliment that you swore thought had been just under your breath.

“You actually heard that stuff, huh?” you say, chuckling as a sheepish grin starts to tug at the corners of your mouth. “Remind me to just keep those compliments in my head when I’m around those big ears of yours, then.”

“Never said I wanted you to stop,” she says, nudging you with her elbow in a much more gentle way than you’re used to. “You should be that honest more often, it’s really cute when you get like that.”

“Now you’re just trying your hardest to get me all red in the face,” you say, laughing a little bit as you can feel that intense burn start to spread around your features. “Honestly, I’m actually really happy you had a good time today. Don’t think there’s anyone else I would’ve rather been snowed in with.”

“God, you’re cheesier than a mozzarella stick sometimes,” she says, laughing hard as she finally takes the ice pack off herself and holds it out in front of her. “Can I tell you something else? Gotta promise not to be mad at me though.”

“I try my best to be as gouda as possible,” you shoot back, your own play on words making you cringe internally.

You earn yourself a roll of the eyes and a long groan for your troubles, something that only makes your smile widen knowing you hit the mark.

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were a standup comedian in another life,” she says as she walks two of her fingers across your clothed chest. “I’m serious though, can I tell you?”

“Ruby, I don’t think I have it in me to be mad right now,” you say, chuckling as you let your blunt honesty spill forth. “And somehow I seriously doubt I could be mad about anything you have to say right now.”

“Alright, I get it. I just wanted to say that… this ice pack isn’t actually helping that much,” she mutters almost under her breath, flashing you a sheepish, almost apologetic smile. “You think it’d be too much trouble if you just kinda did the same thing you did back at the gym?”

“What, like a massage or something?” you say, smugness tainting your smile when you realize she’s trying to be coy instead of asking you directly. “I think I could do that. You know, on account of you practically begging for it…”

“Oh, shut up,” she says, scoffing before leaning forward a bit to set the ice pack down on your coffee table. “You wish I was begging, you oversized dork.”

“Awfully big words for someone who melts like putty in my hands,” you chuckle as you pull her closer to you. “How do you want to do it though? If you want to just lay face down on the couch I think that’s probably the best bet.”

She cocks her head a bit, seemingly taking a short while to mull your offer over as her fingers continue to idly roam free and explore whatever parts of you they can reach. “Yeah, alright. I think you probably know better than me with this kind of thing.”

“Can’t exactly do that when you’re clinging to me this hard though,” you say, relishing in the opportunity to fluster her back after how much her earlier comments got to you. “The quicker the better with this kind of thing, helps more than you’d think with recovery.”

“Says the guy who’s hugging me so tight my eyes feel like they’re about to pop out of the sockets,” she laughs, tapping you on the chest with her fingers to make her point. “But yeah, you’re probably right. Remember one of my coaches saying the same thing.”

You relax the arm wrapped around her a bit, lifting it slightly to give her enough leeway to worm her way out. “Didn’t hear you complaining about it until now, short stuff.”

“Better not make that nickname a regular thing, you ass,” she says as she brings herself up and back onto her feet before turning to shoot you a glare of disapproval.

“Don’t worry, I care too much about my crown jewels to do that,” you laugh as you join her in getting up. “Alright, just lay down and I’ll try and work my magic.”

“Didn’t know you were moonlighting as a wizard now too,” she says as she climbs onto the couch, getting into a push up position before letting herself plop down onto the couch, her face and snout pointing to the side towards you. “Don’t be too rough back there, it hurts pretty bad when I put a lot of pressure on it.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle,” you say, stifling a laugh as you resist the urge to make the easy joke she so graciously set up for you. “It’s not like I’m a chiropractor, after all.”

You get down onto your knees to put yourself in a better position to get at her shoulders, and you watch carefully as you go to put a hand on her back. The second your skin meets the fur of her shoulder she starts to shy away from your touch, and you hear a hiss of pain when your fingers start to press and probe around the flesh underneath.

“Mmh… shit,” she says under her breath after a few seconds, and you can feel her tail briefly brush against your right arm. “Right t-there is where it really fucking hurts.”

“Don’t tense up so hard, it’s only going to make it worse,” you say as you ease up for a moment. “I’m going to have to go a lot harder to really get at the muscle underneath. Close your eyes and try to think of something else, okay? And if it gets to be too much, just say something and I’ll stop.”

“Okay,” she says, nodding hard before slowly closing her eyes. “I trust you, Mike.”

You can’t help but smile a little bit as you can both see and feel the tension melting away, watching intently as both her ears and tail start to slouch, the arch in her back practically vanishing beneath your touch as she sinks further into the couch. You give her a few more seconds to prepare for what’s about to come before you press two fingers down into her shoulder muscles, slowly moving them in small circles as you continue to watch her for a reaction.

You coax short, barely audible grunts and hisses of pain from her as you slowly start to pick up the pace with your fingers, stopping every so often to give her a little time to take a breather before picking back up in the opposite direction. Your fingers glide across the entirety of her shoulder, the fur tickling your skin as you move from muscle group to muscle group until you’re massaging her upper bicep. Minutes pass and you find yourself going back and forth between the two parts, measuring your success by the lack of pained reactions coming from the tiny roo, the once concerning noises now finding themselves replaced by sighs and groans of relief. You take this as a sign to stop for a second, retracting your fingers to gently grab her arm with both hands before slowly extending it out towards yourself.

“Is that better or worse?” you ask, bending her arm a bit at the elbow just to make sure the pain is all localized in the shoulder. “Does it hurt anywhere else?”

“A lot better,” she says, her eyes fluttering open as she flashes you a warm, content smile. “Elbow sorta hurts, and I kinda feel it in my left wrist a little too. Bent it at a weird angle when I was trying to push the bar off.”

“I’ll work my way down then,” you say as you start gently kneading the area around her elbow. “Let me know when I’m at the right spot.”

She nods and you continue with your massage, only letting up on the pressure when her arm spasms slightly beneath your touch.

“Little bit down from there,” she says, and you adjust your hands before looking to her for approval again.

“There?” you ask as you start those small circular movements again.

“Y-yeah,” she says before letting out an odd mix between a grunt of pain and a moan of relief as you really start to dig your fingers in. “Ah f-fuck, that stings.”

“You want me to stop?” you ask, holding off on moving until you’ve got the go ahead from her.

“Just keep going, I’ll be f-fine,” she says past slightly gritted teeth as you continue on.

After you’re satisfied with the amount of attention you’ve paid to her elbow, you move even further down her left arm until you get to her wrist, the last place she’d mentioned feeling pain on. You feel around for a while until suddenly you feel her heavy, thick tail smack into your side, making you flinch in surprise. She doesn’t say anything but you the fact that you can hear her audibly hiss again as you dig through the thin layer of fur makes you curious as to just how badly she hurt herself trying to get those weights off. You lean in before lifting her hand up closer to your face, a little shocked when you see what looks like… bruised skin? The slight purple tinge makes your stomach tie itself into knots again as a pang of guilt shoots through you.

“What’s wrong?” she asks, near instantly noticing you bringing your hands to a stop as you take in the extent of the injury.

“You’ve got a pretty bad bruise there,” you say, brushing aside the fur as lightly as you can so as to not irritate it further. “Probably going to need to put some ice on it for a while.”

“Guess that’s what was hurting so bad,” she says, and you take notice of her wincing as you continue to feel around.

You take a hand off her arm to blindly reach for the discarded ice pack, grasping it firmly once you’ve found it. “Should be fine by tomorrow probably, I think you’d feel it a lot more if it was sprained. Might want to sit up again before I put this on.”

She nods before bringing herself onto her side again, and you scoot back on your knees as she brings her legs around and off the couch, not wanting to get your shirt torn open by her toe claws. You help her as best you can with one arm, sitting her upright first before standing up yourself to join her on the couch again.

“Here, gimme your arm,” you say, grasping it as she offers it out before pressing the ice pack on the center of the bruise.

She hisses slightly when it makes contact with her fur, the combination of the cold, moisture and pain soaking down to the bone prompting a shiver to rip violently through her. “Fffuck. R-really hope you’re right about it being fine tomorrow.”

“Caught enough bruises and scrapes playing sports as a kid to know a thing or two about ‘em,” you laugh, hoping the small talk is enough to take her mind off things. “Dad always used to say they built character. Not so sure I’d say the same about the broken bones, though.”

“Think I’m one of the lucky ones then,” she says, scooting in so close her furred arm brushes against yours. “I’m in the ‘never been in a cast’ club. Had a couple close calls with the whole gymnastics thing, with the worst leading to a couple stitches. Still sucked for a while though, getting called Ms. Bald Spot at school while the fur grew back wasn’t exactly fun. How bad is breaking a bone?”

“Wasn’t somewhere you could hide it, I take it?” you ask as you move the ice pack in small circles. “And it hurts like a bitch at first, but it’s not so bad once you’re finally in the cast. Best and worst part about it is everyone wanting to sign the fuckin’ thing at school.”

“Got mine right on the side of the head, sadly. Kind of hard to hide that. So, how’d a dork like you break his arm anyway?” she says, her widening smile practically contagious. “Knowing you, some ridiculous way, I bet.”

“Honestly?” you chuckle, shrugging your shoulders a bit. “Wasn’t anything special or super memorable, just took a tumble playing soccer and landed on my arm real bad. Didn’t stop my dad from freaking the fuck out though, never saw him run so fast before that day. Thankfully the bone didn’t break the skin or anything, that happened to one of the other kids on the team and just the thought made my stomach churn.”

“I’m glad you didn’t have to go through that,” she says, her free hand rubbing at your forearm.

“Me too,” you say, returning the sentiment in kind with a genuine smile as you wrap an arm around her. “Still got both arms working in tip top shape.”

She laughs a little bit at your words, but doesn't say anything as you wordlessly continue applying the ice pack, the two of you content with just enjoying the peaceful silence and close contact with one another, only broken by the occasional hiss or grunt from her as you continue your tending. A couple more minutes pass and you find yourself glancing down at your watch, doing a small double take when you realize it’s already half past ten. As much as you like spending time together with her, you're both going to be a mess tomorrow if you don't get some sleep soon, and you decide to act before the two of you end up passing out on the couch again.

“So uh, you want to take the bed tonight?” you ask, the words coming a bit faster than you’re used to from your mounting nervousness. “Figure it’s better if you have it since your shoulder is killing you and all.”

You keep your gaze locked firmly on her but she doesn’t say anything for a little while, not that you mind since stringing thoughts together is proving more difficult by the second, drowsiness slowly beginning to wash over your body.

“What if we just-” she says, shaking her head a little as she cuts herself short. “Well, if you want we can… maybe just do the same t-thing as yesterday? Wouldn’t feel right having you sleep on your couch in your own apartment, Mike.”

As much as you want to disagree for her sake, you know she’s right, especially given how tiny your sofa is compared to your body. Not that the alternative is any better in that regard though, something you’re quick to want to bring up.

“Are you sure? Believe me, I want to, but it’s going to be a pretty tight squeeze in that bed with the two of us,” you say, feeling that burning blush start to rise up through your cheeks at your own honesty. “Just don’t want you to be uncomfortable is all.”

“I… I’d just really, really rather not sleep alone tonight, Mike,” she admits before letting out a deep breath of what feels like relief. “And I can deal with a little discomfort so long as… you’re there with me.”

Her words make you swallow hard as you realize how stupidly blind and dense you’re being right now, so much that she felt the need to be this straightforward with you. Nothing excuses you being this oblivious towards her wants and feelings, and you decide to quickly rectify your mistake.

“Then I’ll gladly be there,” you say, offering a warm smile as you bring the ice pack away to get a better look at the bruise underneath. “Looks a lot less swollen now.”

“Feels a lot better too,” she says before letting out a small yawn. “Might need you to actually carry me to bed though, my legs are still killing me a little from earlier.”

“Spoken like someone who’s looking for an excuse to get carried again,” you say, the smug grin on your features proving to be hard to wipe off. “Not like we hit legs today.”

“Both things can be true, you know,” she says, gently tapping a clawed finger to your nose. “Easy for you to say too, you’re not the one who held a split for five minutes.”

“Still seriously impressive, by the way,” you chuckle to yourself, hoping your little compliment distracts her long enough for what you’ve got planned, adjusting the hand you’ve got behind her in anticipation. “Not every day you see that kind of flexibility.”

“Nothing you couldn’t do if you did your stretches every day you-” she says, her sentence cut short by your sudden leaning down to hook your free arm beneath her legs.

You quickly bring her up into a position you can hardly qualify as bridal carry with the way she’s splayed across your lap, but you find yourself grinning like an idiot at the way she averts her gaze as she squirms in your arms.

“Fuckin’ dork,” she mutters almost under her breath as she finds a firm grip on your upper arm to try and stabilize herself. “Always catching me by surprise and shit. Nearly fell on my ass…”

“Oh come on, I’m not going to let you fall,” you say, moving to stand up once you’re confident she’s still enough to make it easy on you. “Have I ever dropped you before?”

“N-no,” she says, meeting your gaze again as the tip of her nose and ears give off little twitches of embarrassment. “Doesn’t mean I don’t get a heart attack every time you do out of nowhere.”

Once on your feet, you adjust your arms a bit to better carry her through the thin hallway leading to your bedroom, watching your steps as carefully as you can to avoid banging her head on a corner.

"Wouldn't be as fun if it wasn't a surprise," you say as you tilt your head down slightly to meet what little of her gaze you can still see. "Means I'd miss out on seeing you get flustered about it every time."

It’s hard to see her reaction to your words in the near pitch black darkness, with the only source of light being the faint moonlight leaking in through your living room window. The way her tail thwaps repeatedly against the back of your legs as you walk towards your bedroom tells you exactly what she’s feeling despite her silence.

“Doesn’t happen every time,” she mutters again as she begrudgingly wraps both her arms around your neck, bringing her face so close to yours that her snout briefly brushes your cheek. “Just every time you try to be a little sneak about it.

“So…” you chuckle, your grin still widening as you reach the narrow door to your bedroom. “Like I said, pretty much every time.”

You hip check the door to open it, being careful to not let her bump her head against the doorframe as you reach for the light switch in the dark. While mostly unimpressive, the small room is thankfully one of the tidier places in your apartment, the posters and other decorations hopefully serving to distract from the small single bed in the corner against your desk. A few socks and clothes are strewn about on the shag carpeting, but compared to the messes you'd seen in your college years you're glad it's more boring than ghoulish, even if Ruby might be okay with it.

“Welcome to the cyclops’ lair,” you laugh, the little pet name she’d given you earlier growing on you at this point. “Probably a little more cramped than you expected, huh?”

“Mike,” she says, staring into your eyes as you continue to walk towards your bed. “How many times do I have to tell you it’s fine?”

You lean down to gently set her onto your covers, already missing the lovely warmth and sensation of her fur around your neck as her grip around it starts to looen. The bed creaks slightly as her weight finally hits it, her thick tail making an audible, if quiet thud before her rear follows suit. She looks around a bit, scanning your room for a few seconds before looking back up at you with tired eyes.

“You know, you made it sound like your room was going to be something straight out of a horror movie or something,” she chuckles as she reaches up to rub at one of of her eyes. “I like the posters and stuff, honestly makes the place look nicer than mine.”

“Leave it to the horror buff to somehow find something nice to say about it,” you say, smiling at your own joke as you plant your ass onto the edge of the bed. “Glad you don’t mind my little matchbox-sized oasis.”

“If it’s small for you, then it’s the perfect size for me, no?” she asks as she scoots in closer to you, tilting her head as she brings it to rest against your shoulder.

“Guess you could look at it that way, yeah,” you say, breathing out a small sigh of relief as you glance down at her. “Can’t say I’ve ever thought of it like that.”

“Well that’s because you’ve got two feet on me, ya’ dork,” she says, nudging you softly in the side with her elbow. “Also, kind of a weird thing to ask, I know, but....”

“Yeah?” you ask as she trails off, cocking your head slightly. “Lay it on me.”

“...do you mind letting me borrow one of your shirts?” she asks, and you can hear her tone grow more and more frantic as her tail starts to thwack against your sheets. “Kind of wasn’t thinking about a change of clothes and I really, really don’t want to get your sheets all dirty.”

You feel oddly flattered by how flustered she seems to get from asking you such a simple question, so much that you find yourself having to think about your answer for a moment, trying not to let your mouth get ahead of your brain.

“It’s just a shirt Ruby, I don’t mind at all,” you say, flashing her a warm, reassuring smile. “Besides, it’s not like you’re going to stretch it out or anything.”

“Just can’t help yourself with the little jokes, huh?” she says, the smile on her face despite her still averted gaze only making your own widen. “And I know, but it still doesn’t make it any less weird to ask. Evenifwearedating…”

“What was that? I didn’t quite catch that at the end,” you say, playing a little coy to draw out her honesty, those little expressions and mannerisms of hers always managing to make your heart flutter and race.

“God you’re such a goober sometimes it hurts,” she says, breaking into a little fit of laughter. “You and that little smug grin, makes me just wanna…”

“Makes you wanna what?” you ask in an almost sing-songy tone as you reel her in with your question.

“Forget about it,” she says, giving you a well deserved jab to the side before letting out another little yawn. “Don’t have the energy to compete with a dork of your caliber right now.”

“Sounds to me like you’re just trying to save face,” you laugh, teasing her a bit more as you move to get up and grab a shirt. “You’re pretty well versed in the art of dork-fu yourself. Some might even say a master.”

“Takes one to know one,” she says, playfully sticking her tongue out at you when you glance down at her.

You walk over to your dresser, opening the top drawer and feeling around in the dim light until you find a good enough t-shirt, turning back to face her after. "Here, catch."

She leans forward to grab it with both hands before it hits the ground, shaking her head as she unfurls it in front of her. “Thanks, Mike. And christ, you could’ve told me this was a bed sheet and I would’ve believed you.”

“Not like I can help being tall,” you say, a mock frown tugging at the corners of your mouth as you loom over her once more.

“Sure you can, just look at me,” she says, letting out a small laugh at her own joke. “Going to go ahead and get changed real quick.”

“Sounds good, I’ll just go step into the hall real quick, call me when-” you say as you turn to leave, though your words are cut short by her tugging on one of your hands.

“Didn’t say you had to leave, you goofball,” she mutters, the nervous smile on her face compelling you to stay and listen to what she has to say. “Just turn around real quick, I won’t bite.”

“You sure?” you ask, not wanting to impose despite her reassurances. “I really don’t mind at-”

“I’m sure, Mike,” she says, cutting you off again as one of her furred pads brushes against your hand, wiping any shred of doubt you might’ve had moments ago. “You might as well do the same.”

“Alright,” you say, nodding down at her before you start to turn around.

The instant you do, you can hear the creak of your mattress and a thump against your floor as she jumps to her feet again. You decide not to waste any time yourself, quickly shedding your shirt and wondering if she's looking your way as you strip down. Once you’ve tossed it into a nearby hamper, you get to work doing the same with the rest of your clothes, only stopping once you’ve stripped down all the way to your boxers and nothing more. You stand there, staring at your bedroom door until she decides to give you any kind of signal, trying to ignore the little grunts coming from her that you assume is just her struggling to get the form fitting clothes off.

“You need a little help, Ruby?” you ask, deciding to venture the question full well knowing how stubborn she can be with accepting help.

“Mh- I’m fine,” she mutters in a way that sounds more like it's directed at herself than towards you given how much she sounds like she’s struggling. “Stupid tail is stuck in the ngh- goddamn hole!”

“Doesn’t sound like you’re fine to me,” you say, a smile forming on your face as you hear her continue to struggle with her clothes. “You sure you don’t need a hand?”

“I’ve got it!” she shouts, and you can hear the sound of her discarded clothes a short while later as they land in the hamper.

“Am I good to turn around again?” you ask after another minute, a part of you wondering what’s taking her so long to put on a t-shirt.

“Almost done, just… one second,” she mutters under her breath from behind you. “Swear they make these things goddamn impossible to take off.”

You step to the side out of reflex when you feel the tip of her tail bump against your leg, and you get the briefest glimpse of her that only serves to widen the smile plastered on your features. A few more seconds pass and you swear you can hear another garment faintly hitting the ground beneath you.

“Alright, about as ready as I can be,” she says, her hurried words giving you a good mental image of what to expect.

You turn around and have to resist the urge to laugh when you see what she looks like in your shirt, the hem of it extending way past her thighs to form what you can only call a makeshift dress. She looks beyond flustered to be wearing it, rubbing over one of the oversized sleeves as her ears and tail let off those small, erratic twitches and wags that you’ve come to find unreasonably cute. The blush that’s slowly tinging the tips of her thin ears makes your heart skip a few beats, and what you spot out of the corner of your eye has you feeling the same way, your cheeks quickly starting to burn. You try to draw your gaze away from the discarded sports bra and back to her eyes, something not made easy by the way she’s actively choosing to stare at the ground past you.

“You actually rock it better than I do, somehow,” you say, struggling not to grin like an idiot as the honeyed words leave your lips.

“It’s just a shirt, Mike,” she says, and the two of you briefly make eye contact as you awkwardly stare at one another. “Good to head to bed if you are. Don’t want you to be a total zombie at work tomorrow.”

She reaches up to undo the scrunchie keeping her hair tied up in a neat ponytail, and you can’t help but gawk as the slightly curled hair flows down just past her shoulders before coming to a stop. The hazelnut brown hairs are a nice complement to the fiery amber pools you always somehow manage to lose yourself in, the two combining to make her look stunning no matter what she’s wearing.

“Yeah, sorry,” you say, shaking your head a bit in a futile attempt to look like something that isn’t a slack jawed idiot as you drink in her simple, yet somehow elegant beauty. “At least I can always sneak in a quick freezer nap. Don’t think you have quite the same luxury.”

“Nothing a thermos full of coffee can’t fix,” she says, still fidgeting with her arms as she sways from side to side, seemingly far too nervous to stay still despite the blatant tiredness visible in her expression. “Freezer naps check out though, with how out of it you seem after work sometimes.”

“Maybe if a certain someone didn’t drag me to the gym after work every day,” you chuckle as you move to sit back down on the edge of the bed, patting the sheets as an invitation for her to do the same. “Going to have to take preworkout after work at this rate.”

“It’s for your own good, dork,” she says, frowning as she turns to face you before playfully socking you in the shoulder. “You’ve put on a lot of muscle this past month.”

You decide to pretend the impact of her ‘blow’ is far stronger than it actually was, letting yourself fall back onto the mattress, staring at the ceiling for a bit as you think of what to say. “Not like you let me forget with how you stare all the time.”

You can feel her tail swipe against your bare leg as she gets closer, hearing the tiny kangaroo climbing up onto the bed next to you before you even get so much as a glimpse of her again. What you do see when she finally comes into view again is a mock pout of disapproval as she looms overhead, something that only makes you chuckle in combination with how your oversized shirt sways with every movement she makes, no matter how small.

“I do not stare,” she says, and the smile that threatens to break through her little pout as she gives you a well deserved roll of the eyes tells you that even she can’t keep a straight face telling such a boldfaced lie. “Dickhead.”

Almost as if on cue and betraying her words, you can see her gaze drift down to your bare chest for the briefest of moments before it suddenly snaps back to your eyes.

A thought bubbles out from the recesses of your mind, and you shoot Ruby a small smile as you prepare to deliver your little joke. “You know who you’d be if you were a superhero?”

You see her raise an eyebrow at your seemingly unrelated question, and you watch intently as the gears in her head start to turn. “Who?”

“Cyclops, with the way you like to stare holes into me,” you say before breaking into a fit of laughter at the joke you’re weirdly proud of.

You’re only briefly broken out of it when you feel her weight crashing down on your chest as she practically tackles you, your arms shooting up to catch her as you find yourself face to face with her in a close embrace, her snout less than an inch away from your face.

“That… was such an awful fuckin joke,” she laughs, socking you in the chest playfully as her chest heaves, seemingly trying to stop herself from going into a fit of her own. “Any second now, the comedy police are going to come take you away. Just you wait.”

“You’ll bail me out though, right?” you ask as you bring an arm around her back, pulling her a bit closer to you. “A clown like me won’t survive a day in the clink.”

“Might have to,” she says, smiling a bit as strands of her loose hair start to tickle at your skin. “Don’t think I can survive a day without you.”

The words from her are far from what you were expecting, the surprising sweetness in her sudden confession making your heart both ache and race, the breath knocked from your lungs as her words echo in your head. You try to think of something equally as nice to say back to her, but you find yourself unable to form many words at all.

“What happened to me being an insufferable dork?” you ask, staring into her eyes as you slowly scoot up the bed towards your pillow, keeping your tight grip on her all the while.

“Never said insufferable,” she says as she touches a paw pad to your nose, a part of you praying she can’t hear your heart jackhammering in your chest as she grows closer. “The dork part’s kind of grown on me a little.”

“Only a little, huh?” you say before you blow an errant strand of her hair out of your eyes. “Well the clown in me is happy to finally get a little bit of appreciation for once.”

You adjust yourself as the top of your head finally makes contact with your pillow, lifting both your head and her body a bit to get it under your neck.

“I’m being serious, Mike,” she says, gently brushing strands of her hair out of the way with her free hand as her other stays busy exploring the stubble on your face without even the slightest hint of shame. “Today was-”

Ruby cuts herself off but her hands don’t stop roaming as she starts to become visibly lost in thought as she stares intensely into your eyes, her chest heaving as she lets out a deep breath before slowly sucking in another. The last time you saw her get this intense was the night she'd broken down in your arms and a weird mix of anticipation and hesitation combine to make your stomach sink into a pit. One that's quickly starting to well up with a noxious, acrid anxiety, threatening to wash away the emotional high you've been riding for what feels like hours. By now you know better though, and you decide to keep yourself in check as she takes yet another deep breath.

“Yeah?” you ask in a hushed, near breathless tone of voice before sucking in a lungful of air.

“S-sorry, not really good with this kinda stuff,” she practically whispers, her voice wavering more and more with every word that spills forth from her, each one more rushed than the last.

“Take your time,” you say, offering what you hope is a warm smile to help her feel more at ease with you. “I’m not goin’ anywhere.”

“I was… trying to say that today was really, really great. With you, I mean. Because of you, even,” she says, shaking her head a bit as she stumbles over each word harder than the last. “Just feel kind of bad that it all had to end on a sour note 'cause I got cocky. You don't know how much it all means to me, Michael.”

You find yourself swallowing hard as the already shallow gap between the two of you closes more and more by the second, the heat radiating off her soft fur enough to make a spine arching chill run through you.

“I’m really happy you feel that way about it, Ruby,” you say, swallowing hard as you watch her smile grow wider with every word. “Doesn’t really feel like I did all that much but-”

You’re physically cut off from saying any more as she gently touches two of her furred fingers to your lips. “Michael. Do you want to know why today meant so much to me?”

You nod slowly in response to her question, squirming a bit from the ticklish feeling of her fur grazing your bare skin in so many spots that it’s making you break out in goosebumps. As much as you want to say something right now, you can see in her passionate, fiery eyes that she’s thought her words through a million times, each one carrying a sentiment she’s been dying to express for god knows how long.

“I’m glad you were there to save me from myself at the gym, but that’s only a little part of it,” she says, and you quickly pick up on her own breathing growing erratic. “The fact that you stuck around today and shared all that stuff we talked about? It makes me happy to know that you trust me enough to… open up like that around me. But what makes me even happier than that?”

“What’s that?” you ask, taking breaths in tandem with her while you try to take your mind off how red in the face you probably are right now.

“It’s that you didn’t mind inviting me here and sharing this place with me in the slightest,” she says, her chest pressing so dangerously close that you swear you can feel her heart beating against yours. “Just happy I can finally call us a couple and well… do stuff like this together.”

Her words hit like a freight train, and you find yourself barely noticing both her hands coming to rest against your shoulders with the whirlwind of emotions running through you right now. You want to tell her you feel the same way, but the words just don't come, your brain doing its damnedest to stop you from ruining the moment, refusing to let even a single word slip loose from your lips. It feels strange to be riding this sort of high, her kind and honest words making you feel like you're in heaven itself and yet, you feel completely unable to muster the same back, left far too stunned to return the passion and conviction she delivered by laying herself bare. It’s rare that you feel so suffocated and lost for words, but if there’s anyone able to pull off such a feat, it’s her. You scramble to think of a way to express your emotions, and feelings as you continue to look into her expectant eyes, but you're only left stunned as you drink in the simple beauty across her features.

You don’t dare to say a word or pull away as her face continues to inch closer to yours, her breathing growing heavier as the hand previously exploring and caressing you settles on your cheek. With how her chest is slowly pressing down against yours, you swear you can feel every erratic, fast-paced beat against your exposed skin. The thought that she can probably sense the same coming from you doesn’t help the way you feel in the slightest, and you find yourself feeling as flustered as she looks as you continue to stare into each other's eyes. With nothing else on your mind but her, you find yourself noticing the way her ears start to noticeably twitch before folding downwards, swallowing hard when you notice something about the way she drinks you in with her now half-lidded amber eyes. It’s an expression you’ve never seen from her before, and the look that you can only liken to hunger as she awkwardly tries to bite her lower lip makes you feel hot under the collar. She continues to slowly close in, and you feel the fur of her snout brush against your face for a brief moment as she adjusts herself, the feeling of her warm breath against your burning cheeks making your skin break out in goosebumps in what feels like an instant. Instinctively, you hug her closer to you with the hand you’ve had on her back for the last few minutes, though you can’t for the life of you figure out what to do with the other one as she nuzzles your face briefly with the side of her snout. The closeness lets you pick up something else entirely, and each breath you take brings with it the rich, earthy scent of her fur, hints of what you think is the subtle, more muted smell of cherry blossoms coming alongside it. It makes you feel strangely at ease, a more than welcome feeling given you’re so tense that you feel like a coiled up spring ready to unravel at any moment. Before you can find yourself relaxing in the intimate moment you’re sharing with her, you feel Ruby grip down hard on your shoulder before she pulls her head back for the briefest of moments, giving you a flash of an apologetic half smile before she mashes her lips against yours.

You almost can’t believe what’s happening, though you quickly react by slowly bringing your hand up her back as you try to lean into the kiss with as much fervor and passion as she’s putting into it. Her technique is clumsy and awkward as the two of you struggle to figure out the best way to share a kiss, both of you awkwardly tilting your heads as you try to figure out how to best lock lips with a snout. Your heart feels ready to burst out of your chest at this point, and despite your difficulties in figuring out this whole kissing thing, you couldn’t feel happier right now. You do your best to make her feel just as wanted as she's made you feel tonight, the two of you finally settling into your tender embrace, both your hearts beating frantically as your minds grow hazier and hazier. Her small lips are soft, and what starts off as a chaste kiss slowly develops into something more as the two of you start to get more and more into it; your free hand coming to rise and rest against the side of her snout before you idly start to stroke it with your thumb. You can’t see much with her snout taking up most of your vision, but you can definitely feel her shiver, squirm and twitch beneath your touch, things you also find yourself doing as she brings both her furred hands up to caress the back of your head as you continue to explore each other for the first time. The feeling of her furred fingers and pads as they gently run over and through your hair and scalp is almost indescribably good, so much that you find yourself barely noticing as her tongue starts to gently, yet awkwardly probe between your lips for entry, something you’re more than happy to just let happen and reciprocate in kind.

She mashes her snout even harder into your lips when her tongue finally reaches yours, and you have to fight the urge to flinch once her damp nose brushes against your stubble, her fur tickling at you as you feel something akin to whiskers stroking against your skin. While it's an alien feeling, you find yourself getting lost in that contrast, your senses overloading as your tongue starts wrestling with hers, vying for control in your little dance as she nibbles at it, your hips nearly bucking every time she teases you. With how distracted you've been by Ruby, you hardly noticed until now how your hands slipped beneath the hem of her shirt, your greedy fingers gliding across her coat and copping a feel of the extra soft fur as you pull her closer towards you. When her taut, corded back muscles brush against your fingertips, it's like someone's flipped a switch in your head, a primal and all-consuming feeling suddenly raging within you, and you find yourself pushing back against her with your lips, just as eager to explore with your tongue as she is. You let out a muffled grunt as you feel her body pushing towards yours, her excitement getting the best of her as she tries to overpower you, your lips mashing into hers as you try to gain control, your tongue snaking past her own as it seeks a way in. You feel her give in without a care in the world, your surprise dulled by the intense desire welling up inside you as you realize just how much you've wanted this. You want to touch her, to protect her, but above all you want to love her, your lips melting into hers as your tongue starts to wrestle back, every tiny poke and prod you deliver turning her to putty as the tiny kangaroo squirms under your hungry grasp. She doesn't let up however, far from it as her hands continue to travel behind your head, grasping at your hair as she holds on and rides your passion filled kiss all the way to the end, her tail coiling around your legs as if she'd drift apart without it, afraid to let you go even for a moment. You can feel Ruby shiver as your fingers explore her back, tracing slow, measured lines across her muscles and spine, your tongue tangling with hers as the two of you wrestle for control, feeling her grip on you tighten as you continue. Her eagerness doesn't end there though, Ruby not letting up for a single moment as your roving hands continue to touch and grope at everything in reach, your dexterous fingers scouring her tiny, muscled frame as they coax a muffled moan from her, a noise that stokes the raging fire inside you like nothing else you've ever felt before. It goes beyond just a mere feeling, becoming a wordless need to make her feel wanted and loved, and to lose yourself in the moment as you're loved back.

You don’t know how long you’ve been at it, but you don’t want this to ever stop, for this divine feeling to ever go away. With the way she needily clings to you, squirming and wiggling to get closer still, you briefly wonder just how touch starved she really is as her happy, yet muffled noises of pleasure and adoration continue filling the otherwise quiet room as you struggle to keep up with her demands. What you didn’t expect though, is for her to start pushing back with just as much hunger behind it, one of her hands moving down to your shoulder blade as she throws her weight into you in an effort to push your back down onto the mattress while not breaking your awkward embrace. It doesn’t quite work the way you think she wants it to, but she seems satisfied all the same as she gets the upper edge in your lewd game of tug of war. You can't help but feel a little disappointed when her hand leaves the back of your head, but the lovely feeling of her bringing you into a tight embrace more than makes up for it, her arms wrapping around you like you're nothing more than a teddy bear as she stares into your eyes, those beautiful amber pools of hers becoming more vivid by the second. You can feel your cheeks burn with every embarrassing grunt and half-moan she manages to coax from you, her nimble fingers digging into the back of your shoulder, her touch so gentle you have to fight the urge to buck under it. You want this to last so much longer, and you find yourself quickly running out of air to breathe, though neither of you seem to want to let your stubborn streak get the better of you and be the one to pull away first. The seconds feel more like minutes as you become increasingly aware of just how quickly your hearts beat against each other, every thump, grunt and muffled moan resonating in your bedroom as you take in another breath through your nose. That rich, oddly girly scent of her fur conditioner is intoxicating and beyond delightful, a perfect fit for the tiny, strong woman holding you close, hellbent on exploring every part of you she can reach. As much as you want to be the last to pull away, you find yourself having to, cursing your human lung capacity as you break away from her, gasping for breath. Your chest heaves as you draw in much needed air, and she quickly joins you in doing so, the two of you panting in tandem as your faces linger a hair’s breadth away from each other, the look in her eyes telling you she wants this to continue just as much as you do. You can’t help but flash a goofy, all too wide smile at her as you struggle to catch your breath, an equally happy, yet awkward smile starting to tug at her own features. Her tail repeatedly thwacks against your legs and the mattress as her ears give off small twitches upwards before gently folding downwards again. Once you finally manage to catch your breath, you decide to be the first to break the silence.

“So uh,” you say, struggling to find words that can even remotely come close to describing how good the high you’re riding now feels. “That was… wow.”

While you can’t help but cringe inwardly at your poor choice of words, the way she breaks out into a small bout of laughter before letting out a cute snort makes the butterflies in your stomach come out to play as your heart skips another beat.

As if she can sense the way you feel about your words, she makes you feel even more like an oversized teddy bear as she briefly nuzzles your cheek with the side of her snout as she pulls back a tiny bit more.

“Y-yeah,” she mutters after another bit of laughter before brushing a lock of her curly, now even more unkempt hair to the side, swallowing hard before continuing to speak. “R-really nice.”

Even though the two of you are clearly happy about what happened, the awkwardness in the air is almost palpable and both of you struggle to not fidget as you come up with the right words to say to one another.

Both of your chests heave as you continue to pant in near unison, one of her hands still gently brushing against the hair on the back of your head as another comes to suddenly, but shakily rest against your chest. If she couldn't feel your heart practically bursting from your chest before, you're almost sure she can now, her pawpads coming to a hard stop above as her small, unsteady smile widens. Her touch is beyond addicting, and every little movement her pads and furred fingers make sends jolts of electricity down your spine, your skin turning to gooseflesh from the contrast. Every breath you suck into your oxygen starved lungs only makes it harder to think when the air is tinged with the earthy yet fruity smell of conditioner. As much as it feels like she’s got you under her finger, you can tell she's just as affected, your digits running through the fur on her back as you continue to stare each other in the eyes. Her nostrils flare wide as she takes in breath, but her gaze doesn’t falter for even a second as she scoots forward as if she’s going in for another kiss. The sudden shift of her weight on you only makes it feel like you’re seconds away from collapsing backwards onto the bed, and you do your best to keep steady as she adjusts herself. The fire and hunger you’d seen in her eyes before is still present and her amber eyes are so vibrant in the low light of the room that it feels like you’re under moonlit stars. You’re not sure what you look like right now, but if the way you feel like pulling her into another loving kiss right now is any indication, you’re sure there’s an equally passionate look staring back at her. What feels like minutes pass you by, and yet that intensity in her expression barely seems to wane, the embers of a month’s worth of romantic tension still burning red hot even after the intimate kiss has long since passed you both by. While you don't mind the silence, there's a part of you that's dying to speak, wanting to explain and tell her just how much she's making you feel right now. As you go to open your mouth and let the embarrassing words spill free, you feel the shoulder that’s been supporting both of your weights for the last fifteen minutes finally give out, sending you tumbling back onto the soft mattress below. You hear Ruby let out a small surprised yelp as she’s brought down with you, the entirety of her small frame’s weight landing squarely on your chest, nearly knocking what little wind’s left in there right back out.

You flash her an apologetic half-smile as you lay your head back against the edge of your pillow, leaving her just enough room to tug her hand free as she brings it to rest on the top of your head.

“You alright?” you ask, concern audible in your tone as the words hurriedly leave your lips. “Sorry about that, arms finally decided to give out.”

“I’m fine,” she shoots back, sweeping back a loose lock of her hair as her eyes focus on you again. “Funny though, I don’t remember you hitting arms today.”

You can't help but laugh at her words before shaking your head and sighing out as a wave of exhaustion washes over you. “What, carrying you up three flights of stairs suddenly doesn’t count? That tail of yours is heavier than it looks, you know.”

You're sure your little comeback hit the mark, her tail immediately swiping and twitching across your legs, the sensation of her soft fur brushing against your bare skin comforting in a way you can't really explain.

“Guess you’re right,” she says, sending another wave of shivers up your spine as she gently digs her fingers into your scalp, ruffling your hair all the while. “Think you’re exaggerating about the tail though.”

"Maybe you're just used to it because you have to carry it around all the time like some kind of third leg," you laugh, your smile widening further when she joins in. "Could probably balance yourself on it if you tried."

"Trust me, I've tried, dork," she says once she comes down from her little bout of laughter, giving you a small love tap to the shoulder.

You get a brief glimpse of the time on your watch from out of the corner of your eyes, a sense of urgency filling you when you realize how late it is. "Shit, do you work tomorrow?"

“Probably not if we’re getting snowed in again, district’s usually pretty lax with snow days since we have a lot of kids that walk to school,” she says as she idly plays with your hair, softly pulling her fingers away and tugging it before digging back in. “More worried about you than anything, I can get by on a few cups of coffee. Should probably both get to bed.”

"Mmh," you mumble, groaning as her claws dig into a particularly sensitive part of you. "But that means... no more of this. Why stop a good thing if you can keep it going, y'know?"

"What, you mean this?" she says, continuing to scratch your scalp to prompt yet another grunt from you. "Is it really that good?"

"Believe me, it's that good," you say, sighing out in contentment. "Don't just mean that though. Just... spending time with you like this is really, really nice."

"Bet you're just saying that because you want me to keep playing with your hair, ya dork," she says, her ears twitching as she averts her gaze for a brief moment to suck in a deep breath. "Probably sounds stupid, but it almost feels like I'm dreaming all this up."

"It's not stupid if I feel that way too," you say, proudly showing off the smile on your face as you pull her even closer. "Though I'm not exactly going to say no to a scalp massage from my girlfriend."

"Y-you know, I think I've got an idea," she says, and you can feel her tail wildly brush against your legs as she shifts on top of you. "Let me just..."

In one swift, yet carefully calculated motion, she rolls off you and lands at your side. She quickly turns to face you, flashing you a warm smile that makes your heart skip a beat as you instinctively bring an arm around her.

“Should warn a guy before you go doing evasive maneuvers you know,” you say, chuckling at your own joke, pulling her close all the while.

“And if I don’t?” she asks, before bringing both arms up and wrapping them around you, one of hands coming to rest against the back of your head again, her dexterous fingers quickly finding their target buried beneath your hair.

“Dunno,” you chuckle, doing your best to shrug while awkwardly half-laying on your side. “Don’t have it in me to be a smartass right now.”

“Finally, some peace and quiet,” she giggles as she starts to hug you tight, her warm fur brushing against every exposed inch of your skin as she presses against you with little shame. “You’re not the only one, you know.”

“Huh?” you ask, cocking your head as you take notice of her twitching ears and nose as they grow closer and closer. “What do you mean?”

“Don’t make me spell it out, dweeb,” she says, softly tugging at the clump of your hair between her fingers. “You know… like you said. About not wanting this to end.”

Her words take you by surprise with just how honest they are, the sheer embarrassment in both her face and tone only making that feeling more intense, her tight embrace leaving you a little misty-eyed as you take it all in.

All you can do is smile as your brain repeatedly fumbles its job of fetching you the right words to say back, eventually managing to give you a few to string together haphazardly. “That makes me really happy to hear. There’s always tomorrow though, not like I’m going anywhere, Ruby.”

“I hope not,” she says, letting out a little laugh before hugging you so tight it feels like you’re going to pop. “You can’t just give a girl her first kiss like that and then vanish on her.”

“Wait, really?” you ask, the words more directed at yourself than at her, but they spill forth from your lips all the same, the implications making your mind race as your cheeks start to burn hotter than lava.

She nods fervently, her gaze still locked firmly onto yours despite her half-lidded and fluttering eyes telling you she’s barely holding on to the waking world as is. “Y-yeah. Isthatweird? HopeIwasntabadkisserorany-”

You decide to lay her worries to rest before they run wild in her mind. “It’s not weird, Ruby. If anything I’m the one worried about not being great.”

“You’re really cute when you get all red like that, Mike,” she says, and her words nearly make you choke on your own saliva. “If you ask me… you’re really good at it.”

You refrain from cracking a tiny joke, not wanting to ruin the moment as her honeyed words make you beam with both pride and confidence. “You’re not so bad yourself, y’know.”

“Really mean that?” she yawns as she idly runs her other hand over your shoulder. “Don’t have to sugarcoat it.”

“Of course I mean it,” you say, flashing her a reassuring smile as you feel a wave of tiredness start to wash over you, her yawn contagious. “Wouldn’t lie about something like that.”

She just smiles as she continues staring into your eyes. “I know, I know. Thanks again for well… everything today.”

"Just happy you're safe is all," you say, pulling her closer and closer still, letting your actions speak for you. "I had a great time today too."

She doesn’t say anything more, opting to take you by surprise as she buries her snout into your shoulder as she hugs you even tighter than before. For a moment there’s a hint of concern that she might’ve gotten overwhelmed enough to cry, but it's swept away in an instant as the side of her snout nuzzles against your ear. You decide to embrace her tightly back, both of you more concerned with how nice this all is to worry too much about how you’re a single layer away from cuddling in the nude. You adjust into a much more comfortable position as you hug it out, and you reach to your side to grab and pull the thick comforter over the two of you. While the sheets are cold at first, her body heat and fur rubbing up against you quickly insulates you from it, and you can't help but mumble in satisfaction as you rub your head against hers. You can feel your eyes start to flutter as you continue to stroke her furred back practically on autopilot, the only sounds floating in the air coming in the form of satisfied groans from both you and her, the occasional sound of her sniffing creeping in here and there. You’re still not really sure why exactly she does it, but it’s grown on you enough that you don’t mind it in the slightest; and considering you find the scent coming from her fur so appealing, it’s not hard to guess why she might do it so often. She squirms a bit more in your arms, her hands slowing down as she sighs out in sheer contentment.

“Can I tell ya’ something, Mike?” she says, before letting out a long, drawn-out yawn, her tail audibly thumping against the mattress.

“Sure,” you say, fighting the urge to close your eyes fully. “Anything, Ruby.”

“D-don’t take this the wrong way or like, in a weird way but,” she mutters, stuttering and stumbling over her words. “Your scent… makesmefeelreallysafe. Just wanted to say t-that.”

You’re not entirely sure which way to take her admission, but it’s oddly flattering coming from her. All the times you’d caught her in the act before suddenly make a lot more sense to you, and despite that you’re still left unsure of what to say even as you continue to embrace the tiny kangaroo. You decide to close your eyes and really allow yourself to focus on the sensation of her furred body against your skin, the sounds of her breathing and sniffing oddly calming to your drowsy mind. Once her arms wrap around you even tighter, it’s like your fate’s been sealed, and you decide to respond before the sandman finally takes you.

“I’m glad, Ruby. I’m really, really glad.”

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Pub: 14 Oct 2022 10:59 UTC
Edit: 01 Apr 2023 12:44 UTC
Views: 1753