Like Old Times

LIKE OLD TIMES:
A Reunion for the Benefit of Yaz Lenslight.
by Electric Keet

The lights – and the fact that I was already two Sapporos down – made him hard to identify, but when he came closer there was no doubt. There stood Yaz, former bodyracer and current crossdresser. Eekay hadn’t been lying. I waved him over. “Nice boots,” I said, hoping I sounded as honest as I was. “They work with your top.”

“Hey, Falda, if it isn’t my fave wolf, hunh?” He grinned and nodded to the group, then sat and looked around the table. The luminous fibre in the chair it lit up his gauzy sleeves as he looked around the table. “Long time no see, hunh? Except you, I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Yaz—”

“Yaz Lenslight, I’ve heard excellent things about you. Iromouairu, at your service.” The orange-tinted raccoon bowed zir head briefly, showing a pair of horizontal bars in white paint on zir brow. “Ira for short, if you prefer.”

The wolverine chuckled. “My reputation precedes me. You’re the new one Eekay mentioned?”

That’s when the snow-leopard opened up. “Ear’d m’ mon’ker. Oi, Yaz, ’ere’s a Q. Far’s th’ squid punked yer penser?”

Lady pressed fingers to the base of one of her antlers. “I can’t understand a single corkin’ word you say. Could you try again but with real words?”

Eekay stared for a second, then yanked off the omnipresent goggles. “Glad t’.” The snow-leopard unscrewed one of the lenses with a quick motion, then wore it like a monocle. “I dare say, I believe I heard my name spoken. Dear Yaz, good chap, I have for you a question. To what extent has your regional manager altered your mind from its previous pristine state?”

Lady massaged her head. “And there’s the headache.”

Yaz only smirked. “My brain’s fine, I think. The only thing the squid shoved in there was the training I skipped out on, and… uh….”

“The irrepressible urge to dress like Falda in those ol’ sensies?”

I growled more than I’d intended. “What has gotten into you, Eekay?”

The snow-leopard snorted, scooted away from the table, and stalked off toward the bar. Lady shook her head. “Th’ cat’s been like that all day.”

Yaz shrugged. “Whatever.” He motioned to an approaching leonine serve-droid, pointed at one of my beer bottles, and held up four fingers. The lion nodded and scuttled off. “Where’s Bell?”

“Off with Basil, losing track of time and money at the tables. No matter.” I leaned in a little closer. “Since the ruffians are away for a bit… you do look nice. Are you sure that you are okay?”

I watched carefully. His eyes didn’t glass over, but his response was a little slow, a little flat in tone. “Of course I am. This is what I always wanted.” He paused a bit, then shook his head. “Yeah, my penser’s a little punked. Could be worse, though, and I can’t complain too much. I got a raise, enough to cover a second wardrobe.” His grin returned just as the minimally-dressed waiter returned with four bottles.

Lady’s expression lightened. “You got the job?”

Yaz nodded. “Assistant manager, aye. So this round’s on me.” Obediently, the lion set one bottle in front of each of us, then sashayed off. We all took our bottles, clinked them together, and took a long celebratory pull.

“It’s great news.” Lady paused. “Guess I don’t even gotta ask.”

“Ask what?” I tried not to think about how cute Yaz looked when he was confused, but he made it hard.

Ira stepped in. “Six Below is considering entering the Allilouxia circuit if we don’t complete the Kinetikos. We require a sixth member for the relay, and the rest speak highly of your abilities.”

Yaz shook his head. “Sorry. Not interested. Not after what happened.”

I met his eyes with mine. “Your arm? Is that really why you left?”

I hadn’t caught him off guard, but I certainly did catch him without a ready answer. He worked his jaw briefly, then grumbled, “I like my job now. It’s what I want to do, and no, that isn’t just the squid’s… helpful training… talking. It’s nothing against the team. It’s… complicated.” He sighed. “Falda, could I speak to you alone a moment?”

I shrugged to the others, then stood up and followed him off to the side. He glanced back over to where Lady and Ira were likely complaining about the sudden lack of people at the table, which gave me an opening. I smiled warmly and said, “By the way, I think you are better at walking in heels than I am.”

He scrunched his expression like he’d just had a swig of Uranian lemonade. “I know, I know, I… thank you. It wasn’t my idea, though.” He opened his eyes again. “Look, what’s the deal with Captain Equal-Sign over there?”

“Ira? Zie takes time to warm up to you, but—”

“Not what I meant.”

I nodded. “Okay, I did some digging. It seems that some time back, a team of Mercurian boffins went poking around the southern hemisphere of Venus, trying to identify a rumoured but unconfirmed mutant species of mobile plant. No telling if what they found was what they were looking for, but it likely was not what they wanted. All five raccoons disappeared… except the one who came back.”

“Ira?”

“Sort of. Zir physical profile and genetic code are altered enough that it cannot be said which of the team zie was originally, and zie only shrugs when asked.”

Yaz shook his head. “This doesn’t scare the blivet out of you? Why the fraz did Basil bring in a cipher like that?”

“Zie wants in, zie is skilled, and he was afraid that if we did not sign zim then Element would.” I put a hand on his shoulder and smiled. “If I did not know better, I would think I smelled jealousy.”

He turned away. “Worried, that’s all.”

I moved that hand to cup his cheek. “Yaz… we are okay, but we miss you. You seem happier this way, though.”

He looked at me with better puppy eyes than I had ever managed. “Working at the hotel?”

My tail thumped the wall rhythmically, betraying me. “Yeah, that too.”

He asked, “What do you mean by that?” but by then I was on my way back to the table. I knew he’d figure it out; I certainly had.

  1. Falda Flosadottir’s avatar

    You have no idea. They were really nice boots. I think it is a little unfair that I compete with Yaz for pretty clothes, now!

    If only I could get him to learn the art of fur care….

    Reply