Gaining a New Perspective by Cashew Lou

Summary: A dinner with Rogue.

Dedication: The character of Rogue appears through the gracious courtesy of his player.
For macro writing at its very best, tread lightly to Rogue's den.

Cashew Lou sat in an uncomfortable chair in the outer office of the Acme Insurance agency, rifling through the pages of an ancient magazine. The magazine's cover had long since been torn off, its contents reflecting the issues and causes of the disco era. He tossed the magazine onto the mahogany table in front of him, and the magazine slid over a carpet of other randomly placed ones and flopped onto the floor, off the far side of the table. The gazes of a few of the waiting furs in the lobby turned at the noise, then returned to whatever had been occupying them before.

Lou quietly padded to the other side of the table, picking up the magazine and returning it to the tabletop, arranging the assortment of reading material into three piles, squaring the stacks neatly. He studied the stacks, deciding the piles needed a bit more organization, and arranged them by date. No--that didn't look right. He tried to arrange them by title, then by subject, but that left too many stacks to fit neatly on the table. He finally satisfied himself with an alphabetical arrangement, once again in three neat piles.

Every eye in the place was on him by this time, and a few whispered comments were passed behind raised paws about the fastidious wolf. He blushed and meekly returned to his chair, its frame not agreeing with his shaggy rump at all.

Lou scooted his backside in the torturous chair, trying in vain to assume a comfortable position. Despite his discomfort, and the fact that his legs were going numb from the thighs down, he felt himself beginning to doze, his shaggy head making deep, rolling nods.

Some unknown period of time later, Lou felt a tap on his shoulder. A young teenage badger stood above him, and every pair of eyes in the office seemed to be on him. The first thing he thought was, Oh, no! Did I drool in my sleep? His paw absently rose to his muzzle. Nope. Good and dry, thankfully.

"Mister Louis!" the receptionist barked harshly, as if she had repeated it several times before.

"Is that you, mister?" the young badger asked him. "She's called for a Mister Louis four times now, and nobody has answered her."

Lou nodded, his head trying desperately to clear. "I guess that is me--sort of, anyway." He stood, and his numbed legs reacted about as efficiently as blocks of grey-furred mahogany. He wobbled and fell, scattering the magazines he had so neatly stacked before. Every pair of eyes in the office was definitely on him now.

He took a moment to rearrange the magazines on the table once again, a stall designed to allow the circulation to return to his legs. That done, he found he could stand, and he padded over to the receptionist's desk. The blood rushing back into his numbed legs created a maddening tingling sensation, and it tickled him in an excruciating manner. He slumped clumsily against the edge of the desk, finding it harder and harder to stifle his helpless laughter.

"I'm Cashew Lou," he said, giggling uncontrollably. Even though he had regained the use of his legs, they were at the sensitive pins-and-needles stage, and even the tiniest motion tickled him like mad. "I think--" sputter, snort, giggle--"I think I'm the Mister Louis you're looking for." He sprayed laughter in her face. "I'm so sorry...I can't help it...."

The receptionist nodded, giving him a blank, cold, inscrutable stare. She motioned to a paneled door behind her. "In there please, Mister Louis."

"Please," Lou said, his body trembling, trying to keep his laughter under control as his legs recovered, "just call me Lou."

Giving no sign that she had even heard him, the receptionist repeated in a frigid manner, "In there."

Lou nodded, his legs now as close to normalcy as he figured they were ever going to get, and he made his way to the paneled door, turning the knob and stepping inside.

Lou's insurance agent, a handsome, extremely well-groomed and well-dressed kangaroo, looked up from his desk as the wolf entered, and he jumped up, bounding across the room to meet his client. He snatched up Lou's paw, pumping it quickly, pressing his other paw to Lou's back, guiding him to a chair. "Have a seat, please. Coffee? Soda? Mineral water?"

Lou smiled at the flurry of friendly activity, sitting in the chair indicated to him, pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was. "Umm...a soda would be fine, I guess...."

The agent returned to his place behind the desk, punching a button on his intercom. "Could you bring in a soda for Mister Louis, please, Rita?"

Rita's response was a noncommittal grunt, sounding neither positive nor negative to Lou. "Please--call me Lou. It's not even short for Louis. It's on my pack birth certificate, and I'm pretty sure you have a copy on file here."

"Sorry about that, Lou," the agent frowned, his tone of voice genuine. "I hate it when folks get my name wrong, too."

Lou blushed. He couldn't remember the agent's name to save his life.

The agent grinned. "It's Ted."

Lou relaxed, breathing a sigh of relief. "Guess I'm the pot calling the kettle black, huh, Ted?"

Ted grinned, leaning to his left to pull a folder from his desk drawer. "Not a problem. Look, you probably want to know why I called you here, and I don't want to take too much of your time."

Lou craned his neck, trying to decipher what the papers were in the folder on Ted's desk. He surmised they were his insurance records, but the pile looked awfully thick, considering his relatively safe and quiet lifestyle. "I have to admit I'm curious, yeah."

The 'roo closed the folder, resting his elbows on top of it, pressing his fingertips together. "I'm not sure just how to put this, but it seems your status has changed, at least from an insurance point of view, and I was wondering why I hadn't heard from you, quite frankly."

"I'm afraid I don't follow you, Ted," Lou said, his brows knitting in confusion. His status had changed? He wasn't married, had no children, and no plans for either, ever....

Ted shifted in his chair, his tone deathly serious. "You've entered a very high-risk category, Lou. It's not pretty, but I'm going to have to adjust your premiums to reflect that."

Lou slumped back, blinking in astonishment. "You adjust my premiums for that?! I can assure you I'm an extremely cautious and safe fur. I mean, I get tested and everything...."

Ted shook his head. "Hmmm...somehow I don't think we're on the same page here. Word has gotten around to me that you have been wandering into macro fur territory."

Lou laughed, but cut it short when he saw the stern, concerned look on his agent's face. "That's it? That's all?!"

The agent pulled a thick stack of papers from the folder. "I'm going to need your signature on a few things, Lou." He slid the papers across the desk. "Wherever you see an 'X,'" he advised.

Pulling a pen from the cup on Ted's desk, Lou flipped through the pages casually. "I'm going to trust you here, Ted. What does this all say? What am I signing?"

Ted leaned back and spoke, as if delivering a memorized speech: "No matter the insurance company, the actuarial tables show across the board that entering macro territory is an extremely high risk. There are several offices that won't cover smaller furs who do so anymore. We do," he said, frowning again, "but it comes at quite a price, I'm afraid.

"Forgive me for sounding motherly here, Lou," he continued, "but you're just plain getting into the wrong crowd."

Lou nodded, scribbling his signature again and again. "You're just doing your job, Ted, listening to what the tables tell you to do." He stopped at one particularly confusing page. "Where do I sign here?"

Ted's finger indicated several blank lines on the page. "Sign here and here, initial here, date here, sign again here,' His finger was a blur as he flipped to the next page. "Initial here and sign hereherehere and here." His finger seemed to be covering something on the final page.

Lou lifted Ted's finger from the sheet, and he did a double-take at the figure revealed there. "Before I sign the last line, what exactly am I insuring here? The Taj Mahal?"

Ted sighed; he had seen something like this coming. "Lou, the sad truth is you insure yourself with us, or you don't go insured at all." He tapped his pawfinger on the sheet. "That's the bottom line, literally."

"But Ted, come on," Lou said, exasperated. "That much money. Come on...."

"Look at it this way, then," Ted replied, "Yes, it's true your rates have nearly tripled. And that seems an obscene amount, sure, I know that. But you look at a macro fur, hundreds of times your size, and it's a bargain, really."

"Bargain," Lou mumbled. "I really have no choice, do I?"

Ted lowered his head a little. "No, Lou, you really don't. No one else will insure you for this; I checked. Like I said, it's this amount per month or no insurance at all."

Lou let out a little sigh of resignation and signed the last line on the document. He slid the stack back to his agent, rubbing his cramped right paw with his left. "Please tell me that's all you need."

The kangaroo spirited the papers back into the folder, in turn tucking the folder neatly into his desk drawer. Nodding, he answered, "That'll do it. I must say you're taking this pretty much in stride."

"I guess I don't see being around macros as all that high-risk. I've never had a problem." Lou shrugged and stood, and Ted followed suit, extending a paw.

"Be careful out there, Lou. I may be bad with names, but believe me when I tell you my clients are important to me."

Lou shook his paw, clapping the 'roo on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it. I'll be fine."

He stepped back into the outer office, shaking his head and chuckling softly, considering his new 'status.'

He was long gone before he realized Rita had never brought him a soda.

Outside the Acme offices, Lou took a deep breath, filling his lungs with warm, fresh midday air. Such a fine day, he thought, perfect for a stroll. He wondered idly as he padded along just how long it took for the insurance paperwork to go through, seeing as he was at that moment making his way toward 'high risk' territory. He decided quickly he really didn't care. He headed, more or less, in the direction of the forest.

Lou ambled, pretty much mindlessly, through the forest paths; he had a destination in mind, but was in no particular hurry to get there. He felt no trepidation, mind you; he was simply in a leisurely mood, and he had the time to indulge it. Such opportunities were rare for him, and he savored every moment when they arose.

He strolled, his deep green scarf bouncing against his furry chest, an occasional breeze catching its fringed edges, flapping it about briefly before it settled back into position around the wolf's neck.

Deeper into the forest, the smooth, rounded pea gravel seemed to change consistency subtly beneath Lou's hindpaws, the chunks of rock becoming larger, sharper, more foreboding. As a matter of fact, even though sunlight streamed down as evenly and as brightly as before, a sense of darkness seemed to pervade the surroundings the farther one progressed. Tree limbs appeared more craggy, the grass flanking the path a darker green, bordering on a sickly black color. Birdsong, the chirping of crickets and the baritone utterances of bullfrogs fell silent.

It wasn't as though the place seemed dead, though; quite the opposite. The air seemed to pulse, weighted with eerie vitality and power, like the still tension before a tornado drops and strikes.

A few dozen more paces carried Lou through a clearing, and he had to scramble to steady his footing, gigantic depressions in the soft ground hindering his progress. Someone watching from high in the air above Lou would have been able to see clearly that the depressions in question were the paw prints of another wolf. Another, much larger wolf.

Lou's arrival was none too quiet, sticks snapping beneath his paws as he stumbled, and he muttered under his breath, concentrating at the task at hand. He found a relatively flat piece of ground and stood, brushing bits of leaves and dirt from his fur.

The creator of the obstacle course loomed in the distance, stomping toward him.

Lou looked up and watched as Rogue the megawolf approached. Ninety feet of fur, muscle and appetite thundered toward the smaller wolf...and Lou didn't even flinch. Rogue towered over him and raised his right hindpaw, lowering it directly over Lou's body.

In such a situation, your average fur would have panicked and fled in terror, or at least had the decency to scream or pass out. Lou stood his ground, though. He had long ago made a pact with the gigantic wolf, who had promised never to kill or eat him. So far, Rogue had been good to his word.

Should that situation change, Lou thought distantly, at least I have insurance.

He watched the massive pawpads descending toward him, the giant's foot blotting out the sunlight, its shade cooling the ground at Lou's feet. Scant inches above the top of Lou's head, Rogue spread the toes of his hindpaw, leaving room for Lou's body to pass between them unscathed. He slammed his foot to the ground, closing his toes and effectively pinning Lou in place. Lou grimaced a little, his kneecaps grinding together as Rogue's toes pinched his lower legs. He shifted one leg in front of the other, easing the pain. He grinned up at his captor. "What's up, big guy?"

Rogue's lips curled upward in an impressively toothy sneer. "Hungry. Horny. Pretty much what is always up."

Lou nodded, running his paws lazily over the top of Rogue's hindpaw, digging his clawtips in, making the big wolf's toes twitch. "Well, you know I can always be of help in one department. About the other, well..." He shrugged, trailing off momentarily, a bit uncomfortable with the subject. He had heard about Rogue's feeding habits; they were the stuff of legend nearly everywhere he had ever been.

"Speaking of what's up," Lou continued, lowering his head, rolling it around to ease his stiff neck, "could you possibly sit or lie down or something? You're making me dizzy, and I'm getting a monster crick in my neck."

Rogue nodded, spreading his toes, and he grabbed Lou unceremoniously in his massive paw. He lowered his tremendous rump to the ground and reclined on his free paw, then opened the other five or six feet above his chest and tumbled Lou onto it. As Lou settled into a sitting position, Rogue chuckled, bouncing the smaller wolf. "Looking down is about the same for me," he boomed. "You need to be bigger."

Lou blinked, as if he had been slapped. In a quiet voice, he mumbled, "It's been a really long time." He stared down at the ground with a pained expression.

Rogue shook his head in an attempt to make sure his ears weren't deceiving him. He studied Lou for a long moment. At a total loss for words, he simply said, "Huh?!"

After a thoughtful pause, Lou replied. "I could be big. I still can. I, um...I...I know a little size magic."

Rogue gaped down at the little wolf. "You...?"

Lou shrugged. "As big as you, if I wanted, I guess. I haven't tried it in quite a while."

The giant wolf blinked, still taken aback. "You? Big? I'd like to see that."

"No you wouldn't." Lou shook his head vigorously. "I'm not very good at it."

Rogue laughed heartily, the little wolf rolling on his chest. "What is there to be good at? You stomp, you eat." He shrugged. "Nothing to it."

Lou returned Rogue's shrug. "I don't know...."

Rogue regarded Lou with renewed interest. "Can you still do it?"

"Sure, um...I suppose. Not so hot on the idea, though."

Wrapping his mighty paw around Lou again, a bit more gently this time, Rogue lifted him and placed him on the ground between his legs. "Little Lou, a megawolf!" He chuckled. "I have to see this." The giant stood, his tremendous, nine-story form dwarfing the little wolf at his feet. "Show me."

Lou shook his head. "I don't really--"

A gigantic hindpaw slammed into the ground less than a foot to Lou's right, and Lou staggered, leaning against it. Rogue glowered down at the smaller wolf. "Show me," he repeated.

Releasing a soft sigh of resignation, Lou nodded, padded a few paces back, and closed his eyes. It surprised him how easily his growth came to him. As he expanded, he could hear Rogue's growls of approval, the big wolf's rumblings seeming closer and closer with each second that passed. His muzzle brushed against what he guessed to be Rogue's chest at one point, and he continued to tower higher into the air, his eyes clenched shut through the entire process.

After a moment, Lou opened his eyes-and he noticed he had made a tiny faux pas. He glanced down at Rogue. The shaggy wolf was now one hundred feet tall, ten feet taller than the megawolf standing in front of him.

Rogue crossed his arms over his chest, tapping his hindpaw impatiently. He cleared his throat.

Lou blushed a bit and concentrated on shrinking himself down to a more acceptable size, dwindling to a more respectable eighty feet in height. His muzzle was now level with the megawolf's shoulder, and he looked up for a sign of approval.

"Better." Rogue grinned. He reached up and rubbed his paw against the red ball of yarn atop Lou's toque. "So your clothes grow, too. Impressive," he snarled, a bite of sarcasm in his voice.

Lou brushed the end of his scarf against Rogue's chest playfully. "You like?"

Rogue grabbed the scarf from Lou's paw, roughly unwinding it from his neck. "No, I don't like. They make you look silly." He tossed the scarf aside, then removed the toque and pitched it, too.

Lou lowered his head, his feelings hurt by Rogue's teasing. Staring down at his hindpaws, he mumbled, "Nothing wrong with being a little silly...."

Lifting Lou's muzzle in his paw, Rogue looked down at him, shaking his head. "You're a macro fur now. Little furs fear us, whether you like it or not. It's hard to inspire fear with--" he gestured toward the clothing on the ground--"that getup."

Lou felt compelled to remind Rogue that not all little furs cowered in fear at the sight of a giant--Lou himself enjoyed their company, as a matter of fact, as did many other smaller furs. He opened his muzzle, starting to express himself, but discretion got the better of him and he let Rogue make his point.

"So stomping and feeding is what we do. And we look menacing while we do it. We giants are like a force of nature..." he paused, thinking of just the right way to put it, "think of yourself as a big furry hurricane or something."

"How about a big, cuddly hurricane...?" Lou asked hopefully. "I mean, instilling fear really isn't a talent of mine...."

Rogue rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Fine. You do what you want. I'm gonna go find something to eat. You are more than welcome to join me. I would prefer you not look all silly--it makes me look silly, too." That said, the megawolf tromped off to begin his hunt. "Besides," he yelled over his shoulder, "you just might learn something."

Lou bit his lower lip, unsure whether he wanted to learn the lesson being offered or not. A feeding for the mighty Rogue could be a gruesome event, he had heard. Stilll...the chance to witness such a spectacle with no fear of being part of the meal appealed to him.

What the heck, Lou thought. I have nothing else to do; besides, it might be interesting to see Rogue feed close up. At worst, if something should bother me, I can turn my head or leave, he reasoned. He trotted after his fellow wolf, eventually matching his lengthy strides to Rogue's.

"So, Rogue," Lou panted as he caught up, "where exactly do you forage for your meals?"

"There are furs all over this muck," Rogue said, professorially, "the trick is to find 'em in groups, find 'em where they gather. One or two furs at a time aren't much of a meal, and you use more energy hunting 'em that way than they provide when you eat 'em."

A small shudder ran through Lou's body at the thought. Then again, he considered, what else was there for a giant carnivore to eat? He wasn't so sure he could do it, but what would be the harm in watching...? A million questions ran through his mind--How do you find them in groups? Where do they gather? How do you round up a bunch of scrambling, panicking furs? How do they feel--Lou shuddered again--going down? He was about to vocalize some of these questions when Rogue stopped abruptly. Lou plowed into him gracelessly, his mind having been far too busy to notice the megawolf had stopped.

Rogue spun around and grabbed Lou by the shoulders. He gestured downward with his big muzzle. "Shhh!" he hissed.

Lou lowered his gaze, and at their feet, about shin-high, he saw a small one-story diner, full almost to capacity with an early afternoon crowd of furs of various species. As of yet, no one in the restaurant seemed to notice there was company outside.

Rogue grinned, his tongue snaking out to lick his chops. "It helps to know when they gather, too." He crouched to his knees, effectively surrounding the building with his massive legs, the main entrance to the diner facing away from the giant wolf. His hunter's mind made sure the main entrance was the only method of escape for his tiny captives, and he watched it closely.

At first, Lou was astounded by the apparent lack of reaction by the furs inside. He crouched beside Rogue, and after a few long moments a single scream finally rose from the diner, muffled by the walls of fur and muscle closing the place in.

Darkness filled the diner as Rogue crouched around it, and its interior seemed to spring to life, the sounds of overturning tables and chairs, shattering glass, and cries of panic matching the frenetic commotion as the diners and staff rushed en masse to the entrance.

Rogue lowered his right paw directly in front of the diner's doors, and the first dozen or so unlucky furs piled into his palm, his mighty pawfingers closing around them. A number of the tiny creatures passed into unconsciousness as the pressure of the giant digits forced the air from their lungs. The huge predator raised his paw to his muzzle, giving his victims a clear, horrifying view of his fangs and cavernous maw.

Lou watched as furry little arms and legs flailed madly in Rogue's paw. Rogue opened his fingers, tumbling the furs into his muzzle, his tongue scooping them to the back of his mouth. Lou winced as Rogue's muzzle clamped shut, the snapping of bones muffled both by the giant's muzzle and the softer tissue of the smaller furs' bodies. The wet snapping sounds went on for quite a while, until it seemed there was little left in the tiny bodies to be broken under the force of the gnashing teeth.

Rogue chewed and swallowed with relish, lowering his right paw once again, dragging another group of running furs into a clump, scooping them up. As his paw rose higher into the air, a small fox managed to escape between the mighty fingers, and it began to run up the megawolf's forearm. Perhaps it knew it didn't stand a chance, but its efforts were certainly impressive.

Rogue neatly snagged the fox off his arm with the thumb and first finger of his left paw. He regarded the tiny creature, and instead of eating it right away, he handed it to Lou. "Here," he said, "enjoy."

Lou blinked, catching a glimpse of bits of fur, a couple errant scraps of clothing, and a lot of blood inside Rogue's muzzle as the big wolf spoke. In a daze, he held out his own paw, and allowed Rogue to drop the frantic fox into it. Without really thinking, he popped the little fur into his muzzle. His mind kicked in, asking him just what in the hell he was doing. The sensation was odd, but not entirely unpleasant; in fact, Lou found it a little exhilarating.

Having spent some time in Rogue's muzzle at his normal size, Lou knew how sensual a giant tongue could be. He rubbed the tiny vulpine inside his muzzle, but his little captive obviously misunderstood Lou's intentions. Lou gasped, startled, opening his muzzle back up again, as he felt a sharp pain on the side of his tongue. The little bastard was biting him! The coppery tang of his own blood gave Lou a sharp moment of clarity, and he could suddenly understand clearly the rush of pleasure Rogue was enjoying as the megawolf chomped away at his second mouthful.

Despite the anger and the twinge of bloodlust Lou felt, he still couldn't bring himself to eat the tiny fur. He simply stood there, his muzzle hanging open, tiny droplets of blood beading on his tongue.

The fox seemed at a loss as to what to do. It stood on the end of Lou's tongue, looking down, apparently certain the leap from such a height would be fatal. It glanced nervously back and forth from the ground below to the gigantic throat behind it.

Lou raised a paw to his muzzle, nudging the fox forward with his tongue. The amazed little fur took the cue and hopped into the gigantic paw, and Lou lowered it to the ground. The fox wasted no time, and bolted for its life. It never realized its focus was on the wrong wolf.

Rogue, having witnessed the entire episode with astounded disgust, waited for the fox to get a respectable distance from Lou's paw, and he slammed his fist down upon the luckless creature, leaving little but a russet smear on the ground. He glowered at Lou, and growled, "This is what I get for taking you out to lunch?"

Lou lowered his head, mumbling, "I guess I really don't have it in me."

Rogue shook his head. "I guess not." He shrugged and gathered one final pawful of scattering furs, having to sweep back and forth several times to even get a dozen, since they had fanned out over such a wide area. He ate them quickly, smacking his lips, chewing with his mouth open. He made sure to give Lou a good look as the furs turned into a frothy red paste.

Lou turned his head, blinking slowly, leaning back to sit on his rump, seemingly studying something of interest in a distant grove of pines. He sighed softly, aware of the last of the surviving little furs screaming off into the distance. His mind tried to blot out the horrified screeches.

On occasion, even a destructive force of nature has a softer side. Rogue reached over and placed a paw on Lou's shoulder. "Look," he said, "so it's not your bag. It doesn't make you any less a macro--or a fur, for that matter."

Lou turned his head, giving Rogue a weak smile. "Thanks."

Still crouched over the diner. Rogue reached down, placing a huge paw on either side of the building. With a grunt, he wrenched it from its foundation, metal screeching on metal, furniture and fixtures tumbling this way and that, chunks of concrete and glass falling to the ground as he lifted. "Hold out your paws," he said.

Lou cupped his paws in front of him with a curious look.

Rogue propped the doors of the diner open with his pawfingers, tilting the building, emptying its contents into Lou's paws. "You should be able to find something to eat in there that isn't moving." He began to pick through the rubble with his big fingers, tossing tables, chairs and other inedible detritus aside. "See? There's a burger or two...I think these are mashed potatoes...."

The smaller wolf chuckled, watching as Rogue reduced the pile in his paws down to the palatable bits. He licked the hodgepodge of mixed food into his muzzle, and after chewing it a few times, opened up to give Rogue a good look at the pulp he had created. "Aaaaaaaaa..." he said, grinning.

Rogue dropped the diner with a crash, more or less on its foundation. He laughed heartily, ruffling Lou's head fur with his big paw. "Very nice!"

Lou closed his muzzle and swallowed. He glanced down at the diner, leaning horribly askew on its now useless foundation. Even though he realized fully that the building would never serve a purpose again, he straightened it out with his paws, squaring it as neatly as he could. He stood, studying his handiwork, and nudged one corner of the building with his hindpaw, shifting it into place. As with the magazines in the insurance office, he arranged the crumpled diner with a slow, steady compulsiveness. Nodding, finally satisfied, he looked down at Rogue and offered his paw. "Mind if we go back now?"

Rogue accepted Lou's paw, and with his help hefted his mighty frame to his feet. Glancing down at the diner, then back to Lou, he asked, "Are we pretty much agreed this place has little to no use anymore?"

"I suppose, but...."

"Good." The big wolf needed no further prompting, and his gigantic hindpaw thumped to the ground. It just so happened it was the diner's poor luck to be between Rogue's foot and the ground at the time, and the small structure was instantly rendered much, much smaller. He gave the remains another good stomp, crushing the debris into an unrecognizable mass, much like his powerful jaws had done to its former occupants. Lifting his paw, shaking it free of chunks of rubble, he gave Lou a contented, sly grin.

Rogue brushed his paws together, not so much to clean them of dust, but as a gesture of satisfaction in a job well done. He grinned. "Now we can go."

Lou smiled up at Rogue, his gaze lowering to the big wolf's hindpaw. The smile on Lou's muzzle faded quickly when he saw the rusty smear on the ground that had once been a fox. He closed his eyes and shook his head, muttering under his breath.

"What?" Rogue asked, taking a casual glance down at the remains of the fox. His grin widened. "Still hungry?

"That's not funny," Lou said with an icy growl. "That's not funny at all."

Rogue took a step back, a 'what the hell?' look on his face. His tone became defensive and angry. "What's your problem?"

Lou took a deep breath to calm his nerves. He exhaled, looking Rogue directly in the eye. "You didn't even eat it."

Rogue snorted, trying not to burst into laughter outright. "So?"

"So!" Lou was nearly yelling. He paused a moment, trying to regain his composure. "So," he continued, his voice still half an octave above normal, "you just smashed it. You just--" he trailed off, gesturing downward dramatically.

Rogue narrowed his eyes, tilting his head to one side. "You watched me eat all those other furs, and you had no problem with that." He shrugged. "I don't get it."

"That," Lou snapped, poking Rogue's chest with a pawfinger, "was food. Something we all need." He spoke through clenched teeth, enunciating each syllable, as if addressing a very slow child. "That I can understand. We all need to eat. But the fox--" another poke to Rogue's chest-- "and the building. Come on! You're a big wolf, Rogue. You need to be a little more careful about the way you get your thrills."

Rogue pressed a paw to Lou's chest and shoved, sending the smaller wolf staggering backward. He stomped toward Lou, snarling angrily. "You wait one damn minute!" He shoved Lou again. "The last thing I need is to hear this shit from you!"

Lou stumbled backward again, his arms flailing wildly, barely keeping his balance. He held a paw out to ward off another shove. "Now you hold on! All I'm saying is this smashing and stomping crap bothers a lot of furs."

Rogue stood toe to toe with Lou, the larger wolf's eyes ablaze with the fire of his anger. "How does it feel?" he growled.

Lou's heart hammered in his chest. He had never seen Rogue this pissed off, and he had a creeping feeling that not even a fellow macro fur was entirely safe with the megawolf in this kind of mood. "How does what feel...?" he asked in a stunned, quiet voice.

"How does it feel," Rogue hissed, "to know that every fur in the world likes what you do? That there isn't a single fur anywhere that has a problem with you?"

"Oh, come on, Rogue...."

"Climbing around on the cocks of giant furs, blowing your wad on their tongues!" Rogue barked, nose to nose with the smaller wolf. "Just think! Everybody wants to be Cashew fucking Lou!"

Lou recoiled at the sharp words, and all the fight went out of him. His shoulders slumped and he lowered his muzzle, profoundly ashamed of himself. "Sorry," he croaked in a tiny, choked voice. He began to return to his normal size, shrinking steadily.

Rogue roped in his temper a bit, but he was still angry. "That's one of the reasons I promised not to eat you," he growled, "'cause you didn't give me the high and mighty bullshit." He sighed, shaking his head. "Was one of the reasons," he corrected.

Lou shrank to his normal height, shivering slightly in the shadow of the giant wolf towering over him. He couldn't remember the last time he had felt this weary. He sat cross-legged on the ground between Rogue's massive hindpaws, closing his eyes. "No need to hold you to that promise now," he muttered.

Rogue crouched down, scooping Lou into his paw. He lifted the tiny wolf to his face and nudged Lou with his huge, cold nose. Lou's eyes clenched shut even tighter, and he shivered again.

Even the mighty megawolf had a soft heart when the spirit moved him. He blanketed Lou's body with his immense tongue, exhaling warm breath over the little wolf. "Lucky I just ate," he chuckled softly.

Lou opened his eyes, relieved to find himself outside Rogue's muzzle, rather than inside it. He blinked up at Rogue, unsure what to do or say. "Look..." he began.

"We're different, you and me," Rogue interrupted.

Lou nodded solemnly. About that there could be no doubt!

"Other furs hate me for what I do," Rogue continued, shrugging, "Normally I could care less, but I don't want you to be one of 'em."

Lou smiled. He had a feeling he had just been complimented, in Rogue's own roundabout way. "I won't be, Rogue, I promise. I'll just keep my distance during feeding and stomping time." His smile brightened, and he gave the huge wolf a friendly lick on the nose.

"Well, if feeding and stomping are out, that only leaves sleep and..." Rogue's lips peeled back from his gigantic fangs in a sly sneer. "Little woof wants to play, huh?"

Lou answered Rogue with his own miniature version of the megawolf's sneer. "Let's get outta here, big guy."

Rogue nodded, and he pressed the little wolf against his massive chest. With Cashew Lou nestled thusly against his gigantic body, Rogue stomped back to his cave, the thunder of the giant wolf's footfalls marking his progress home.

© 1998 Cashew Lou
Please--no further distribution without the consent of both the author and Rogue's player

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