This story is set in August of 2017

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      Foxx and Wolfe, Supernatural Detectives


      Rodford Edmiston

Part Six

"Stop laughing and help me catch the couch!" yelled Jill.

Jackie managed to get her cackling under control and started forward. Just as the animated piece of furniture charged the kitsune. The startled fox girl jumped straight up... and landed on the couch. Which stopped running and began to bounce. Jill had a death grip, but on one of the seat cushions, which simply went flying with her on board with the first good buck, all seven white fox tails bushed out in alarm. She landed face-down on the floor, fortunately with the cushion under her. The couch ran to a corner and turned to face outward. Jackie could have sworn it was growling.

"Okay, time to leave this to the pro," she snickered, shifting to her midform and advancing.

Jill didn't protest. She sat up and watched as the werewolf stopped just out of the couch's reach and stared at it. The thing seemed uncertain; though still putting on a fierce front it backed further into the corner.

"Come here," said Jackie, firmly, pointing to the floor in front of her.

The couch scrunched itself further back.

"Don't make me come over there!"

The couch stayed still.

"Oh, just let it be," panted Jill. "The effect should wear off in a few..."

The couch made a break for freedom. Jackie tackled it. There was a brief flurry of splintered wood and bouncing springs. Then all was still, except for bits of cloth and stuffing floating to the floor.

"Oh, Jackie!" said Jill, hurrying over. "You didn't have to wreck it!"

"It bit me!" snapped the werewolf, still calming down from the fight.

"It didn't have a mouth!"

"It still bit me!"

"Okay, okay... but now we need a new couch."

"Can't you just magic this one back together?"

Jill looked around the apartment at the scattered remains of their couch and felt a giggle welling up inside her.

"Well, in the first place, I'm afraid it's a bit beyond standard repair spells. And if I do magic it back together, I'm not sure how that would affect the animation spell."

"Great," muttered Jackie. "We have just too many unusual expenses. Why'd you want to animate our couch, anyway?"

"I wasn't aiming at the couch," pouted Jill. "I was going to practice by animating a stuffed toy. Which I put on the couch. And something went wrong."

"What stuffed toy?" said Jackie, suddenly suspicious.

"Oh, it's fine," said Jill, waving the matter away. "As soon as the couch started moving it fell off. It's over there."

Jackie hurried to where the white-furred girl pointed, and gave a little cry of alarm. She quickly grabbed the wolf plushie off the floor and cuddled it. Then she turned and gave her roommate a glare.

"You were going to animate Mister Gibbles?!"

"You and that toy," sighed the kitsune, rolling her eyes.

"Hey! Jeremy gave me this."

"Well, anyway, there's no time to deal with this now. We've got to get ready for that dinner tonight."

"Oh, sure, now you worry about getting ready for that," scowled Jackie, "now that there's something you want to do even less come up."

"Oh, hush," chastised the kitsune. "It's in our honor. The least we can do is show our appreciation for their thanks by being there and looking nice."

"I just hope the mayor is late again," muttered Jackie, as she prodded one of the couch bits with her foot. "The only good thing about him is that, because he's always late and always sneaks out early, people don't have to put up with him much in person. Wonder if that's why he does it..."

"I didn't think you liked talking about politics," said Jill.

"This isn't politics. This is criticizing someone who has influence where I live," Jackie averred. She struck an orator's pose. "Frankly, I think the man has a head full of other people's lost socks. I mean, they have to go somewhere, and he's not using the space."

"Now, stop," warned Jill, smirking.

"His biggest problem is that his ears are too close together. I think he screws them on too tight."

"I'm warning you," Jill managed, between snickers.

"His IQ is so low his assistants have to water him twice a week," Jackie declaimed. "His last physical exam found aphids."

Jill sagged against the wall, nearly helpless with giggles. Jackie relented, and the myobu soon recovered. The werewolf looked at her in an evaluating manner, head tipped to one side and a bit of a smile on her face.

"Why does that crack you up, so?"

"Because it reminds me of your father doing it!" Jill panted. "He's a lot funnier, by the way. If it were just you it wouldn't be so funny."

"And here I thought you just liked him because of his perfect physique," Jackie kidded.

"A perfect physique? Your dad?" snickered Jill. "He of the perpetually pulled pectoral?"

"Hey, it's an old injury from a fight with another werewolf," said Jackie, defensively.

"Well, now we really do have to get ready," said Jill, in a sudden attack of responsibility. "You know what you're going to wear?"

"Yeah. Jeremy and I are going dancing afterwards, so I'm wearing The Dress."

"Oh, no!" Jill cried in mock alarm. "Not The Dress! Uh, you do know there's going to be press at the dinner..."

"Yeah. It's all right. Mom and Dad only care if I wear it in human form. When I'm furry not as much shows."

"Oh. Well, it's too bad they wouldn't let us bring dates."

"You're wearing the formal version of your working clothes, right?" Jackie asked, as she headed for the door to her room.

"Yep. All fancy white silk, embroidered in gold and red threads." The kitsune sighed dreamily. "I'll look so gorgeous in that..."

"Modest, too," snickered Jackie, as she exited.

At the convention center they were directed to a handsome, plainclothes police officer.

"I'm Carl Coldiron," he said by way of introduction. "I'm your escort for tonight."

"'Coldiron'?" was Foxx's reaction. "Did someone think that would be a joke, or something?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"In folklore, cold iron was anathema to the fey," Wolfe explained.

"Well, I hope you're not going to collect me," he joked.

"Huh?" said Wolfe.

"'Anathema' means they hated it," said Foxx, looking puzzled.

"Oh," said Carl. "Uh, can we start this over?'

"It's all right. Everyone's entitled to one mistake," said Wolfe, smiling. Her lips parted to show large, pointy teeth. "Just one."

"Uh, right," said Carl, taken aback. "If you'll come this way, they've already started seating people."

Foxx and Wolfe found themselves warmly greeted by several people they knew who were already seated or standing near the table, mostly uniformed members of the group of police the shapechangers aided with supernatural problems. The remaining uniformed officers arrived soon after, as did the detectives in the group. The two young shapechangers had just finished saying hello to Detective Toole, when the waiters started taking orders.

"Steak," said Wolfe, when her turn came. "Rare."

"I'll have the catfish, please," Foxx told the man, noting he seemed completely unsurprised by the werewolf's choice.

The dinner was an unremarkable affair, except for some of those being honored, and for what all those being honored had done. Several people thanked the members of the "Supernatural Task Force" directly, others read testimonials. Even the mayor managed to mumble his way through his prepared speech with only a few minor mistakes.

Afterwards they were supposed to socialize, but some people begged off, including Wolfe.

"Tell them I've got a hot date," she murmured to Foxx, as she finished wiping her muzzle.

"I thought you did have a hot date," countered Foxx.

"Then you won't be lying, will you?" the werewolf snickered.

* * *

The nightclub was noisy and crowded. A good quarter of the patrons were obviously supernatural... but the most obviously supernatural were the two werewolves, cavorting wildly on the dance floor. Everyone else gave them plenty of room.

The song ended and Jackie and Jeremy moved to the bar and ordered drinks. They watched the others dance for a while, making idle conversation. They paused not because they were tired - they weren't even breathing hard - but to give others a chance.

"What is it your father does for a living?" Jeremy asked, loudly, directly in his date's ear.

"He recycles towns," Jackie replied, in similar fashion.

"He... what?!"

"He buys old, empty houses - sometimes entire empty towns - and recycles them," she elaborated. "He strips the ones that can be refurbished and hires contractors to bring them up to code; sells them as country homes. The rest he completely takes apart, sorting the materials to recover what he can and selling them. He says that in some houses the wood alone is worth more than he paid."

"That's... unusual."

"Legally, he makes sure the contract makes it clear he owns anything he finds," Jackie pointed out. "Though if it's something personal he tries to return it to the owner or next-of-kin."

She shook her head, laughing.

"It's amazing the stuff he's found. Once, while taking apart an old, brass-frame bed - a collector's item itself - he discovered that one of the hollow posts was full of coins, going back to 1893."

"Does he hire any temporary help? I could use a job to earn money for Christmas."

"Maybe," Jackie replied, uncertainly. "He does most of the demolition stuff himself - says it keeps him in shape and helps him work off his aggressions."

"Your dad is kinda... big, isn't he?" asked Jeremy, sounding awed.

"Ah, he's just a cuddly woof-woof," Jackie snickered. "Say, watch my drink, will you? I have to go powder my nose."

When she returned she found Jeremy slow dancing with a gorgeous Sidhe woman. And began experiencing an odd dichotomy. Her human mind thought "Oh, that's okay. She's much better for him than I am." Her wolf mind gave a wordless growl of rage and started across the dance floor, fangs bared and claws ready. Everyone in her path quickly got out of it. Except her target, who was so caught up in what she was doing with my mate that she didn't notice the werewolf's approach until just before she struck.

The open-pawed blow caught the Sidhe woman in the shoulder and hurled her up and over several body lengths into a wall. She dropped, nearly headfirst, to the floor, her form shifting due to lost concentration. She struggled to her feet, what had been a sexy, revealing dress hanging repulsively on her frame as her flesh shrank around her bones. Her skin turned parchment yellow, teeth reshaping into needle fangs and nails into long, curved claws. She groggily tried to focus on her attacker. Jackie leapt, breaking several Olympic records. Her target dodged, mainly by simply falling deliberately to one side. The wall had been cracked by the first impact; this one resulted in a large, ragged hole, with Jackie mostly on the other side.

The werewolf yanked herself backwards with a howl of rage, scattering plaster and wood paneling onto the dance floor. The now-hideous creature who had been draining Jeremy's energy shrieked in panic, and vanished.

* * *

"...and then she bamfed out of there," sighed Jackie. "Jeremy was so weak - this was the second time something has done this to him in the past month - that I had to take him straight back to his apartment. Stayed long enough to make sure he just needed rest, then figured I better leave."

The werewolf had returned to find Jill, in her human form, slouched down on the couch watching TV, wearing a housecoat, fuzzy slippers propped on a footstool, her white hair bound up in a towel. She was sipping a large mug of hot cocoa.

"You think it was the same one Todd and I met in that alley?" the kitsune queried. "That's the same night club."

"I have no idea," sighed Jackie, stripping off her dress as she walked towards her room. "I just know that it was similar to what attacked him before, but not the same one. I'm going to shower, have some of that cocoa, then hit the sack."

"Calling it a night a bit early for a Friday, aren't you?" smirked Jill.

The phone rang, making both of them start.

"I really hope that's not an emergency call," said Jill, with a wistful sigh.

"I really hope it is!" snapped Jackie, striding nearly-naked across the room to grab the phone, easily beating the much closer kitsune. "I need to work off some frustrated aggression."

The call was important, but not for the reason either of them expected. Jackie's mother was in jail, arrested for assault.

"Too late to go see her tonight," muttered Jackie, hanging the receiver back in the wall-mounted cradle. "Well, she's not in any danger. Todd says Dad almost went berserk when he heard, but managed to calm down before actually going anywhere. They're gonna talk to a bail bondsman tomorrow."

"Forget that," said Jill, reaching past her roommate for the phone and hitting a speed dial button. "Lord Teleomier will... Hi! This is Jill. Listen, I have a favor to ask..."

An hour and a half later Jackie was with her parents and two of her brothers at the family home. Lord Teleomier, Jill, and Jill's parents were all there, offering support. Both the girls had changed into jeans and long-sleeved shirts for the late-night visit. The others were all in similarly casual clothing, except for Bent-Tail, who was in a suit and tie, and Joyce, who was in the remains of what looked like a witch's costume. A few traces of makeup remained from where the matron had made her wash her face before getting her mug shots.

It was a measure of the trust these people had for each other that all of them but Bent-Tail were in their trueform. And he just didn't want to ruin his good suit.

"Okay, just what happened?" asked How.

"It was supposed to be a joke!" Joyce exclaimed, still upset. "You know how they've started taping episodes for a new Saturday night monster movie program? I got together with Traci.."

"The actress who plays Suspira?" asked Jill, who, being her father's daughter already knew about the new show and had seen a few episodes. That is, all those shown so far.

"Yes, Traci Harrison. The station manager had told me he was disappointed with her show's ratings and asked me to give her some tips. Well, I did that. Then we got to talking about how our characters would react to each other. And came up with the prank. For a couple of weeks she'd make disparaging remarks about her predecessor, then the third week she'd start in on Carni Vore again, and I'd suddenly run on stage, in full rig, waving a stake and screaming. I'd chase her around some, then they'd go to commercial break. When the show came back we'd be sitting together, talking like old buddies."

"Only it didn't work out like that," growled Bent-Tail, arms protectively around his wife.

"You know how it worked out," snapped Joyce. "Traci started to rag on Carni Vore, I ran out, yelling and waving the stake. She just... stared at me for a moment, then started screaming. And I got tackled by half a dozen stage hands. Now she's suing me for assault, and the station says they never heard of our plan!"

"I wonder," mused How, thoughtfully rubbing his furry chin. "Is this just some mundane plot of somebody's... or has there been some definitely non-mundane tampering with people's memories?"

END Part 6

      This document is Copyright 2004 Rodford Edmiston Smith. Anyone wishing to reproduce it must obtain permission from the author, who can be contacted at: