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[Fiction] Vixen - Bad Hair Day


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“Honey, you’re going to be late….” Mitch’s urging was tinged with a touch more gentleness than usual, and the reason was all too apparent.

“I know!” snapped the subject of said gentle urging, and she immediately regretted it. “I know, hon,” she tried again with the apology clear in her voice. Still, when Dr. Roxanne Richardson turned to look at her husband of just over six months, her heart fell – he was a good three shades paler than normal, and even from across the bedroom, she could clearly see dilated pupils in his widened eyes. He’s afraid of me. My husband is…afraid of me. Replaying the scene in her mind, the reason for the fear was clear enough: when she had snapped at him, she had done so in a literal fashion: the teeth clicking shut loudly in her muzzle. In my damned muzzle, she thought ruefully.

For a moment, she started to focus on quenching her quantum fires once more. It was an effort abandoned before it really began. An old phrase came unbidden to her mind; “Insanity is continuing the same action repeatedly in expectation of a different result.” A black ghost of a chuckle rumbled in Roxanne’s throat, as she considered just how many times in the past few weeks she had done exactly that. But despite Neil Preston’s insistence that nothing was wrong, those fires would not be quelled, and trying again now would only leave her feeling ill for her first day back on the job. And maybe my last.

The mirror forgotten for the moment, she walked around the bed to the doorway where Mitch still stood, trying to pull himself back together. “I’m sorry I snapped, hon; I’m just so damned nervous about this.” Carefully, slowly, she reached out a hand – a hand with white fur that shifted to orange-red at the wrist – to take his own. When she felt the slight tremor in Mitch’s hand and the touch of cold sweat in his palm, her heart broke anew. As long as she had known him, she had worried about the day when her novaness would come to affect him; the effect that novas with various levels of Quantum Backlash Syndrome had on baseline humans had been documented for over a decade. Still, she had hoped that somehow, their relationship – their love – would make for an exception, would protect him from the kind of reaction that an anthropomorphic fox with three tails had on others. And another hope goes down the drain.

Still, Mitch didn’t pull his hand away. Squeezing hers, he said (with his voice only cracking a touch at the very start), “I… I know. But it’s not like they haven’t known this about you before. They’re just going to have to adjust to having the Vixen part of you in the open. You’re a brilliant asset to the firm; you don’t really think that they’d risk losing that, do you?” The smile he finished with was obviously meant to be reassuring; if it hadn’t trembled slightly at the corners, it may even have succeeded.

Gathering what effort she could muster from her hollow soul, Roxanne forced a vulpine smile of her own. “You’re right, hon; it’ll be fine.” The lie convinced no one.


Until now, Vixen had largely been able to avoid the gauntlet of Seattle’s mass-transit system. She had stayed at home as much as possible after Flicker had taken her, in the time of a single ‘flick’, from Rio de Janeiro directly to her own living room. But Century Inc. had made clear that her assistance was needed if three different project lines were to avoid dying on the vine (literally, in the case of one), and with more pride than courage, Roxanne had braved the walk to the Green Line station. Twelve blocks of stares, double-takes, and hushed conversations later, she had arrived at the steps up to the platform. A train rolled smoothly to a stop of the monorail less than a minute later, and for the life of her, Roxanne couldn’t decide if it was a boon (to get her away from the dozens of eyes on the platform sooner) or a bane (given her feelings about this whole venture). Either way, she quickly took a seat, carefully maneuvering her tails in such a way as to not be pinched by the graffitied plastic seat, and settled in for the ride whilst doing her level best to ignore the looks of those around her.

From her handbag, she pulled out a can of Sprite and a straw; experience had taught her that straws were all but indispensable for drinking soda from a can when one has a muzzle. Popping the can open with a claw tip, she plunked the straw in place, and leaned back in her seat along the side of the car to drink her soda – and saw the unlikely scene reflected in the opposite window as the city slid past. On seeing herself – a well-dressed bipedal fox drinking soda from a straw – Roxanne wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry; the gurgling choke that was the compromise turned into something that was not an entirely unreasonable facsimile for a growl, and the crowd around her backed up as one. The embarrassed blush that came to her face could not be seen, but the forward hunch and downcast eyes certainly could, and by the time the train had pulled into her station, Roxanne was intimately familiar with the weave of the aisle matt.


Roxanne accepted the small mercy that the corporate office was a mere half-block from the nearest Green Line station with all the enthusiasm of a condemned prisoner accepting a last meal. She actually came to a full stop in front of the doors, her legs not accepting orders for a moment as an icy hand wrapped itself around her heart and gave it a good long squeeze. It took no less than three deep breaths to break the spell, and with a fatalistic determination, she pushed the glass door open and stepped inside.

The receptionist’s reaction was much better than she had hoped. “Welcome back, Dr. Richardson!” the young man said with honest enthusiasm. Surprising herself, Roxanne managed a bit of cheer and as close as she could approximate to a smile in return. “Thank you, Peter; it’s…good to be back.” For a moment, she meant it… and then Peter shoved an arrow straight through hope’s heart. “If you don’t mind me saying, ma’am, I’ve always hoped you might come in like this; I’m a huge fan.”

He’s a fanboy. Great. The ‘smile’ faded from her face, and with a sigh of resignation, Vixen trudged through the halls to her office.


The day lasted for something under a decade, but nobody would have been able to get Roxanne to swear by it. If her colleagues weren’t nervous around the undormed nova, they were overly-curious, and despite Herculean efforts on her part to maintain a focus, her lab groups were the most inefficient she had seen out of a high-school biology classroom. Still, she managed to rescue the three critical project lines from their moribund status – barely – and survive the day. But it did not come without cost. By day’s end, one long-time co-worker was requesting a transfer to a different division, and a second was receiving a long and involved talk by the division director regarding the particulars of sexual harassment.

“Have a good night, and see you tomorrow!” Peter called out with enthusiasm as she made her way through the half-darkened lobby, startling Roxanne out of her train of thought. “Peter? What are you still doing here? It’s a quarter-past seven; you were off over two hours ago.” The look on the young man’s face couldn’t have been more eager if he were ten years old and offered a shopping spree at a candy factory. “I… um, I just wanted to be here to see you out! You know, to make sure that, uh, you got out OK and everything.”

That’s it. I’ve had it. A low rumble turned into a growling snarl, and Vixen turned on the shocked receptionist. “Let me make this clear: I am not a curiosity. I am not an object for your misplaced affections. And I am most certainly not in need of your protection. What I am is tired, hungry, and done for the day. Good night, Peter.” The young man went as white as the cap of Mount Rainier, and Roxanne immediately regretted her actions – images of Mitch, pale and trembling in the bedroom doorway flooded her mind. Without another word, she turned and fled.


A dull ache behind her eyes kicked in on the platform while waiting for the train; by the time she got home, the waterworks were in full operation, with her sense of smell temporarily muted by snuffling that gave no hint of an end in sight. She hurried through the door and shut it against the world outside, and leaned her back against it as she worked through another sob.

“Are you OK, honey?” Mitch appeared from the kitchen, and the look on his face was not one of fear; it was pure concern. With a snuffle, Roxanne managed to say, “Just a really bad day, hon.”

Mitch looked at her for a moment, with an odd look of consideration on his face. Finally, he said grimly, “Guess it’s sort of a bad hair day, huh?” Roxanne’s eyes went wide as she looked up at him in something near shock, and saw the corners of his mouth slowly turn up.

Despite herself, Dr. Roxanne Richardson - aka Vixen - broke into laughter.

[size:0]Edited for spelling

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