User:Jetfire/It Bears Investigation
|Paradise story universe|
|Works by Jetfire on Shifti|
It Bears Investigation
Candace growled in frustration and stared at her notebook, trying to will her notes into making sense. Adam was hiding something from her, but she couldn't figure out what, and it was driving her nuts.
She skimmed over the notes she had been gathering for the past few months. Her suspicions had been roused in August, when he started acting differently, moving more carefully around the house and especially around her. Since then, the differences kept piling up with no resolution she could figure out. There was a big piece out there that she simply could not find.
She tapped her pen against each curiosity again:
- Gouge marks in door jambs, and on desk and couch arms.
- Scratches on light switches
- Spending longer in bathroom preparing for the day, four hairdryers in 9 months?!?
- Six keyboards in 9 months? What is he doing to break those keys?
- Strange prints around the car and in back yard
- Too much hair all over the place.
- Fatigue in winter, difficulty to rouse for work.
- Strange scents in the house, like a wild animal of some sort.
- Strange noises, especially while he slept
- Seeing a large dark figure out of the corner of my eye that looks nothing like Adam, yet is him when I look closer
She frowned and scratched off the winter fatigue item. That was normal for him even before last August.
"A pet would explain some of this... but not all. And why would he hide a pet from me? And WHERE would he hide such a pet? We're in the middle of the city after all," she mused to herself.
She tapped her pen against her teeth and thought more. A lot of this seemed to happen after Joe's strange comments to her, and the message he had to Adam. It was obvious he was in on whatever this was somehow, but that didn't help her out much.
She put the notebook down and started a new list.
Is Joe in on it?
- Joe sent an Xmas package, with a set of hair and brushes and large scale nail clippers. Why?
- Why did Adam send back a present that included cat nip and cat toys?
- More 'in jokes' that only the two of them got. What is the connection between goats, bears and cougars?
- What was with the message he had me tell Adam last fall?
- What was with that email from him to Adam that freaked Adam out so much at the time?
- What happened afterwards to make him dismiss the picture so casually after the freak out?
She shook her head and stood up. She had poked both of them off and on, trying to get them to drop some sort of explanation, but they remained evasive and tight lipped.
"Sorry Adam, but if you won't tell me, then I'll have to do it my way," she mumbled to herself. She put the book down and walked across the hall to his bedroom.
The room was a mess, papers, printouts and RPG books scattered all around his computer desk. Even with the window wide open, and a couple plug-ins scattered around the room, there was a certain stench to the room she couldn't place. She pulled his chair up to the desk and frowned, realizing the bounce was completely gone out of it. "Three chairs since August," she muttered, mentally adding it to the list while rubbing the deep gouges torn in the hard plastic of the arms.
She brushed the brown hairs off the keyboard and turned on the monitor. He'd left mIRC open and connected to their usual set of channels. What was surprising, was the extra channel she had never heard of.
"What the hell is Changing World? And why are Adam and Joey hanging out in it?" she mumbled, skimming back through the buffer. It seemed to be some sort of Furry channel, but she couldn't tell what the theme was. The discussion wandered all over the place, from current events, to fur care tips, to guesses about who might change next. It didn't make much sense.
She tried going to a few links in the channel, but was stopped by various login restrictions. The browser remembered his login ID for those boards, but the password field remained annoyingly blank. She half heartedly tried some of the common passwords she knew he used, but only got error messages.
While she had the browser open, she opened the history and scanned the sites. Many were what she would expect him to visit, but others linked to similar forums that she couldn't get into. She wasn't able to read the threads themselves, but the thread and board were intriguing by themselves. "Tips on how to hide paw prints? How to care for claws? The Bear's Den? What the hell are these?" she muttered to herself skimming what little she could.
She heard the front door open and froze, listening carefully. She recognized the heavy footsteps, and rushed to close down the web browser. She stood up, turned off the monitor, and sprinted to her room, easing the door closed.
She rested against her door, her heart pounding. "It's just Adam, he's not gonna hurt you," she tried to convince herself, the new clues whirling in her mind.
Adam hummed to himself as he walked home, pausing to sniff the air every so often. It had been a good day so far, and tonight's game was going to be fun with the ideas he and Karl had cooked up.
He opened the door to his house and stepped in, locking the door behind him. He tilted his head curiously, hearing a thumping from deeper into the house. Sniffing the air, he could only pick up his and Candace's scents, mixed with their cats.
"You home Candace?" He called out, crouching down to tug his shoes back to visibility. He pulled them off and dropped them next to hers.
"Yeah, just doing some cleaning," she called out from the bedrooms area, her voice strained for some reason.
He glanced around the front part of the house, then headed in deeper, to the bedrooms. He paused at his room, sniffed the air and smelled her scent in it; fresh enough that it told him she was recently in there. Curiosity piqued, he walked into his room and followed the strongest scent to his computer desk.
The computer beeped at him.
He poked the monitor button and was surprised to find the screen light up immediately, showing his desktop instead of the screen saver. The computer beeped again, and mIRC was flashing on the toolbar. He frowned and brought the program to the forefront. The active channel was #ChangingWorld, and it was scrolled up. The beeping was the program indicating that new chat wasn't currently visible.
"Did you need something on my computer?" he called out suspiciously.
"It was beeping, so I checked to see if there was anything wrong," she said, walking to his door and looking in at him. She was staring at him as suspiciously as he felt.
"Was there something wrong?"
"No, not that I could see." She stared at him for a moment, debating what to do. "What is 'Changing World'?" she asked.
He bristled a bit at the invasion of his privacy. He forced his hands down to his sides and tried to stay calm. "Just a channel Joey brought me into. A furry one, light RP."
"And you didn't think to invite me? Or to even ask if I might be interested?" she asked, feeling hurt.
"It's more complicated than that, a very special group involved with it is all. Neither Joe nor I can invite just anyone in. I should have told you sooner though."
She shook her head. "You sure it's just that? From what I could see there, it looked like it had more than that."
He growled softly under his breath and forced himself to breath slowly. "It's just a channel. That's all."
"OK, but what about those message boards? I couldn't tell much about them but they seemed to be in weird places."
His growl grew into a snarl. "You snooped into my browser? That's private stuff!" he shouted, slamming a fist on the corner of his desk. Everything jumped, some papers and books sliding off to the floor. His monitor teetered dangerously close to the edge before he reached out to steady it.
Candace watched, scared a moment before her own anger lit up. "Well how else am I to find out what's wrong with you? You've been hiding something since last fall and it's been worrying me sick!"
"If I'm hiding something, I've got a damn good reason for it!" he roared back at her. "If there was anything you could do, I'd tell you, but there's nothing you can do."
She glared at him a moment, and reached in, slamming the door closed. "Fine, if you want to be alone in whatever you're doing, then you're alone!" she shouted, storming to her own room and slamming that door.
Adam stood there a long moment, breathing hard and pulling his own temper back under control. He relaxed his hands and glanced at the screen, seeing she was on-line and typing up a storm in their public channel and causing a stir.
<Ashline> God damn that pig headed stubborn arrogant bastard! ARGH!
<Malbi> What happened?
<Jetfire> Talking about Adam? I'd say he's more bear headed than pig headed... *G*
<Ashline> You stay out of this Joey! This mess is as much your fault as his!
<Jetfire> My fault?!? What did I do?
<Ashline> I have no idea, but you're in this mess up to your neck too.
<Jetfire> I assure you, my body is in no mess, let alone one that is up to my neck.
<Ashline> ARGH! Stop playing those stupid games! I don't want to see either of you around here any more!
To his non-surprise, he saw a flourish of ban message appear in their public channels, followed by his and Joey's bootings. He sighed and eased down into his chair, hearing it creak under his weight.
"Five... Four... Three... " he started counting down, and at one, a window with Joey popped open. His friend could be so predictable in certain ways.
<Jetfire> You there man? WTH happened with you two?
Adam took a moment to readjust his keyboard before answering.
<Grizzly_Adam> I came home and found she was snooping on my computer. She saw #ChangingWorld and some of my bookmarks and stuff.
<Jetfire> #ChangingWorld? Well the conversation's been pretty tame all day; not much to see there. So what's the big deal?
<Grizzly_Adam> She thinks I'm hiding something from her, and it's pissed her off, to say the least.
<Jetfire> But you ARE hiding something from her. Something rather big.
<Grizzly_Adam> I know! That's the worst of it. I don't know what to do.
<Jetfire> Well, here's something mind blowing. How about you just TELL HER THE TRUTH? It won't end the world. It won't even end the Veil. I told you about Mike and Crystal right?
<Grizzly_Adam> Mind blowing is one way to describe it I guess. *sigh* Yeah you mentioned them.
<Jetfire> If you want to have any peace in your place, you'd best bite the bullet and explain it to her.
<Grizzly_Adam> Yeah I know. Guess it's time. I was almost hoping to wait till August but I guess not.
<Jetfire> Better bring a peace offering when you go.
<Grizzly_Adam> Of course. No way I'd confront her empty handed. Polar bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions, they ain't got nothing to an Angry Candace.
<Jetfire> *G* Good luck man.
Adam stood up and considered his options. The peace offering was easy enough; there was enough ice cream in the fridge for two peace offerings. But telling her everything was going to be difficult. He shrugged his big shoulders and padded out to the kitchen, grabbing a couple of spoons and the ice cream from the freezer.
He knocked on the door to her room and listened. He could hear papers being crumpled and ripped inside. "GO AWAY!" an anguished shout answered his knock, followed by a thump against the door.
He sighed and put his paw on the knob, and turned it slowly. "Even if I come bearing peace offerings and explanations?" he asked, nudging the door slightly open.
Silence answered him, daring him to open the door further. He could see Candace against her desk, sorting through papers, her eyes red and her cheeks wet. A stuffed frog lay on the floor where it had bounced off the door.
"Only if you're gonna tell everything. No holding back," she said, not facing him, fighting to hold her voice steady.
He held out the ice cream, then padded into the room, setting the tub and a spoon next to her on the desk. "It'll be hard to believe, but I promise to tell you everything."
She turned around in her chair and watched as he eased himself onto the edge of her bed.
Adam took a deep breath. "In a nutshell, furries are real. The world is going fuzzy. Joey went fuzzy a couple years ago, and last year he realized I was going fuzzy. You can't see it because of a Field around us, but I'm really a big brown bear."
He started in on the basic briefing that Joey had given him back then, and expanding on it based on his own experiences. She listened silently, not asking any questions, or showing any reaction at all, to his nervousness. When he finished, he stared at her, waiting to see what she would do next.
She stared at him silently. The pieces fell into place in her mind, around the big revelation. It all fit together, finally fit together. It didn't make much scientific sense, but it made sense in her gut, and she was willing to listen to that for now. Later, she'd grill him, try to get better proof maybe, but for now, she was just glad he had finally told her.
She looked at his nervous, expectant face, trying to imagine what it looked like as a brown bear, and finally smiled. "Is that all? That's your big secret? That you're a bear? Oh Thank God! Here I was worried you were being blackmailed to do something, or maybe you were in some strange terrorist cell training wild animals," she laughed in his incredulous face.
"So you believe me? You aren't surprised about it?" he asked slowly.
"Of course I believe you, you big fool. It all finally fits together too. The keyboards, the hair, the scratches.... I'm just pissed you didn't tell me this sooner."
Adam visibly relaxed and slumped back on the bed. "I just didn't know how you would take it. I had trouble taking it myself, even as my body changed, till I saw everything Joey showed me."
"So he's really a girl now? That'd explain how he's playing Nar better. I can't really imagine him as a goat though."
Adam called from the bed, staring at the ceiling. "Why don't you let him back in and you can ask him. Just keep it mostly private, he and I, and now you, are the only ones in our crew that know about it."
"Not even Karl? The way he acted, and starting up the Veil, I would have thought he was GM'ing from experience." She swung back around in her chair and canceled the bans in the channels and sent out an invite.
"Yeah Joey and I thought that as well, but nope, it was just a coincidence."
She tossed the rest of the ice cream towards the bear on her bed. "You'd best get that back in the freezer before it melts. And as punishment for hiding this from me for so long and driving me nuts, you're making dinner. For the rest of the month."
"Yes ma'am," Adam said, heaving himself back onto his feet and padding out of the room.
Soon enough, Jetfire popped back into the channels.
<Jetfire> peeks out from his bomb shelter. "Has the all clear been called?"
<Ashline> tosses a bag of catnip to JF and snuggles against her new bearskin rug. "All clear now. Got Adam back in his place."
<Jetfire> pounces the bag of catnip. "Good good."
<Malbi> looks at JF, then at Ash. "You guys are weird. WTH happened?"
<Jetfire> "Nothing you need to know about now. Maybe in an August or two."
<Malbi> August? What happens in August?
<Ashline> Something really neat. You just need to wait your turn.