This story is set in late October of 2017
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"Why so pensive?" Jackie queried
"Because things are so expensive," sighed Gillian. "New couch, automobile maintenance, normal and abnormal expenses due to our double lives..."
"What happened with your idea to get the Louisville police to pay for some of our expenses?"
"I asked Toole to check into it," sighed the myobu. "He said they'd probably be able to pay us for direct expenses out of petty cash, but he'd have to ask his Captain first. And anything more than that would require approval from higher up."
"Yeah, my folks are having a bit of a tight time with money right now, too," sighed Jackie. "Especially with the lawyers and everything."
"And mine won't be able to help me with the rent if they get a house, like they're plannin'. 'Course, if they do, they'll have room for me to stay with them, so..."
"Yeah, but then I'd have to move back in with my folks, since I can't afford this place by myself. Not and still pay tuition."
The young werewolf looked morosely around the apartment.
"I'd kinda hoped we could keep sharing this until I finished college.”
"Me, too," said Jill, echoing her partner's tone. "Or even until one of us got married. But it looks like we'll both be moving back in with our folks."
"Yeah. Oh! That reminds me; I have to go meet my folks, soon. Momma found a place she wants to show us this afternoon."
"And you need a ride."
"How can I resist, when you make those big, anime eyes," snickered Jackie. "I'll drop you off on the way to the daycare center. Promised Momma I'd run some errands for her."
* * *
The human female watched, smiling, as the five foxes eagerly explored the woods back of the house. Four were mixtures of red and brown, but the second largest had pure white fur, and blue eyes. The largest, the father of the others, turned his head, left forepaw poised in mid-step, to look back at the woman. His tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth in a vulpine grin.
*I love it!*
"I thought you would," said Tina, also smiling. "The house is big enough for all of us, it's within our budget - though just barely - and there's three acres of woods which go with it, with more around that. Plus, it's not far from one of the local magic places."
Thurla, the youngest of the kits, took advantage of her parents' distraction to gambol off towards an interesting-looking clump of weeds. Gillian, the oldest, hopped into her path and sent her back towards the others with nips and yips.
*That's poison ivy!*
*No, it's not!* Thurla insisted.
How turned and looked at the pair, tongue again hanging out.
*Listen to your sister. She has a lot more experience with real woods.*
Jonas and Ginger - nine and seven, respectively - watched their oldest and youngest siblings for a moment, looked at each other, then moved as one to flank their father.
*Show us the woods!* cried Jonas.
*Yeah!* Ginger reinforced.
*Not today. We don't own this land, yet.*
"We'll never own it if you five don't quit fooling around and change into something more presentable. The real estate agent is supposed to be here soon."
They actually had plenty of time, but Tina knew from long experience that kitsune didn't pay as much attention to the clock as she did. Getting them back to business early gave her some leeway in case they were distracted later.
How shifted through is trueform to full human.
"Okay, kiddies, make yourselves presentable!" he ordered, grinning.
The younger three changed reluctantly back to human.
"What about her?" Jonas asked, pointing at his still-fox sister, lying in the shade with her chin on her crossed ivory paws.
"Gillian, your father said for you all to turn human."
*He said "kiddies,"* was the teasing reply. *I'll be 19 next February, so that doesn't include me.*
"Change," said Tina, firmly but with a bit of a smile.
The white fox gave vent to a theatrical sigh, and shifted to her human form.
"Happy, now?" she asked, rising and brushing her skirt off.
The agent actually arrived a bit early, much to Tina's relief. Keeping five kitsune out of mischief with the temptations this place offered was wearing. Through long experience - mostly as How's business manager - Tina politely but firmly whittled the amount down as far as she safely could. Then they shook hands, agreeing to sign the papers in the office the next day.
"Finally!" Tina crowed, spreading her arms wide. "A place of our own!"
"Yeah, and that means we all have to move in," sighed Jill.
"Be sure you let Mrs. Cooper know you'll be moving out at the end of the month!"
"Yes, Momma," said Jill.
"I'm not so sure I want to move in here, if it means having her with us, too," groused, Jonas. "I mean, it seems like we just got rid of her."
"That's enough," said How, firmly. "Your sister's making a big sacrifice to help us get this place."
* * *
"Egad!" cried Jill, as she tried to lift the boxed stereo system. "I hadn't realized this weighed so much."
"What is it about shapeshifters and music?" mused Jackie, shooing her out of the way. She squatted, wrapped her arms around the box, and easily stood. "I know why I like having a good sound system, and my dad likes Beethoven..."
"Baaaaayyytooooovaaaaaannn..." said Jill, ending with a giggle.
"Yeah, and you like the classics, too," Jackie acknowledged, lifting the box easily, "but your dad likes easy listening, and Todd digs hard rock, and..."
"I think it's just that our hearing is better so we use it more," said Jill. "Of course, that doesn't explain my mother. Who listens to grunge, but with the volume down low."
"Get the door, would you?"
"Y'know, as much as I enjoyed living with you, and being away from my folks, I think I'll like moving back in with them in the new house. It's a lot bigger, if nothing else; I'll actually have more room than here. And the kiddies do need help, especially with learning stuff they need to know about the world and everything."
"What brought this on?" asked Jackie, watching to make sure Jill locked the door behind them.
"I was just thinking about how there's so much stuff that gets passed down from generation to generation, and not always in a family, but just from older to younger. And so much gets lost..." Jill sighed, then smirked. "For instance, my dad's first name, Howaya, comes from his Chinese grandfather. I only recently learned the family tradition - and this from people who don't know what my dad really is - that this is a corruption through several generations of a name derived from the Chinese word hu, which means 'fox.'"
By now they were at the van they had borrowed from a college friend. Jill opened the back door and Jackie slid the large box in. It barely fit among the items already inside.
"So he could'a been 'Who are you' instead of 'How are you,'" snickered Jackie, dusting her hands off reflexively.
"Yes, but you're missing the point," said Jill, quite seriously. "We keep losing stuff, because someone doesn't think to tell it - or all of it - to the young."
"Oh, I can picture it now," said Jackie, grinning. "You trying to lecture your younger brothers and sister about all the things wise old you has learned in her many years."
"They'll all have their next tails before they get out of grade school."
"Keep in mind that the whole rewarding tails thing is a recent convention, probably less than two hundred years old. Before that, magical foxes grew tails simply by living long lives and growing in power and wisdom."
"Makes sense. Foxes don't really go with hierarchies or bureaucracies."
They closed and locked the door.
"You sure that's the last of it?"
"Yeah. I was using that as a table, since we moved all those out yesterday. I checked everything, even looked in the vents and on top of the door frames."
"Well, I guess that's plenty thorough."
"So, we drop this off at the new place, then return the van."
* * *
"Good news," said Detective Thompson.
"You can reimburse some of our expenses?" was Foxx's eager rejoinder.
"Better than that," said Thompson. "We can put you on payroll"
"You're serious," said Wolfe.
"Very serious," replied Detective Thompson. "We've checked with legal. Not only can we hire you as special consultants, but we can do so under your noms de guerre. There's actually a great deal of precedent for that. There's also things like witness protection programs providing people with new legal identities. You and Foxx would be recognized as citizens under those names, complete with Social Security numbers. And tax returns."
That last was said with a smirk.
"So, in effect, we'd have official... dual identities."
"You almost said 'secret identities,' didn't you?" snickered Foxx.
Wolfe glared at her briefly, then turned back to Thomas.
"Would this carry through to the federal level?"
"We're pretty sure they'll follow our lead. We'll arrange for you to have drivers' licenses if you want, which are legal ID in all 50 states. I don't know about passports, but if the changes go through locally and with the state government, the feds may not even realize that your applications are for new identities."
"Well, I'm not going to tell them," muttered Wolfe.
"Hey! We could go into business!" Foxx exclaimed. "'Foxx and Wolfe, Supernatural Problem Solvers.'"
"I notice you got top billing, again," was Wolfe's dry response. "And that there's a pun in the name."
"There is?" asked Foxx. She frowned for a moment, then laughed. "Oh, yeah. 'Supernatural Problem Solvers' applies both to the problems, and the solvers."
"Hey, do we get badges?" asked Wolfe, with atypical eagerness.
"No, sorry. You'll be deputized on the scene if necessary, but otherwise you're just hired specialists."
* * *
The newscaster approached the actress with forced casualness. They greeted each other and made small talk until they were alone.
"So, any developments in finding out who they are?" said "Suspira," a.k.a. Traci Harrison.
"No," said Conyers, looking irritated. "But I did find out something disturbing. The police are setting the two of them up with fake IDs, to keep anyone from finding out who they are."
"Well, that bitch Jones has somehow managed to convince the judge that the whole thing was a mistake," snapped Harrison. "He said there was insufficient evidence of malicious intent and refused to send it to trial."
"Hey, don't worry," Conyers assured her. "Once we've revealed this conspiracy, she and all the other sympathizers will lose a lot of support. Then we'll appeal and the judge will have to put her on trial."
END Part 7
This document is Copyright 2005 Rodford Edmiston Smith. Anyone wishing to reproduce it must obtain permission from the author, who can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org