Beginnings and Middles
She shuddered as masterful hands crept over her haunches. A small grin teased its way across her lips, and she slowly rotated her way around to face her lover. “You know, you won’t find any more if you just focus on those areas.”
He grinned at her, his hands resting on her hips, gripping softly to her amber fur as he shifted himself closer, till they were muzzle to muzzle, chest to chest. His uncovered eyes glinted with mischief, and she returned his look, prompting a small sigh of delight. “Why would I not want to touch you...” His hands slid over and around, cupping her again “... here”
She pushed him away: but not far, and giggling at his expression instead of snarling at his forwardness. She hadn’t done that for a long time now. “Madre dios, Cooper. Enough. Let a woman rest.” She stretched out, and ran her right hand delicately along his shoulder, “Besides, it’s my turn. You forfeited.”
The racoon chuckled back at her. “And what a pleasant forfeit it was.”
They soaked in the silence of the room for a second, limbs brushing slowly in a relaxed, gentle way: different to the vigorous, passionate sweeps of movement that their lovemaking inevitably became. The soft sunlight of the Paris midday tried in vain to seep through the curtains: but not today. This day, there will be no interruptions.
Then, Carmelita brushed under his neck. “Here.”
Sly blinked a second. Then he traced her arm up with his hand, finding the spot that she was touching. A small ridge of flesh stuck out from underneath the fur, concealed from view. He rubbed it absent-mindly, his brow furrowed a second. Then it shot up, and he grinned. “Ah! The Old West!”
Carmelita sat up a little at that. “I don’t remember you getting shot.”
“It was before you arrived.” Sly didn’t question how she knew it was a bullet wound- she was a police officer, after all. Instead, he settled back against the bedpost. “We’d just broken out of jail...”
Carmelita’s head shot up sharply, her eyes boring into him with a power that was generally used to make hardened criminals blubber like babies. “Somebody arrested you?”
Sly moved quickly, his arm wrapping around her as he pulled her close, soothing her with a gentle kiss to the brow. “On purpose. I got caught on purpose.” He pulled back slightly, and smiled at her slight pout. “Don’t worry, inspector. You’re still the only one to catch me fair and square.”
She grumbled a little, but couldn’t hold out. With a sigh, she leant into him, her head on his chest, and let him continue.
“We were heading down onto the main street...”
“Well smoke my pipe, kid, we lost them!” Tennessee said, grinning widely as he sauntered in front of Sly down the long, open street. “Those varmint’s were dumber than a jug full-a eels.”
Sly glanced up at the high buildings around them. “They were pretty stupid. I saw one of them trip over his shoelaces- and he wasn’t even wearing his shoes!”
Tennessee let out a roaring chuckle, slapping his thigh. “I remember that one! That guy looked as stunned as a prairie dog with a sack of nuts.” He paused briefly, and then looked back at Sly. There was a brief moment of consideration, before he stuck his hand out.
Sly took it in his own, and shook it. Tennessee’s gloves were thick, and made grasping difficult, but sly could feel the calluses lining his palms. These were gunslinger’s hands.
“Sly Cooper, huh?” Tennessee said, looking him dead in the eyes. “Guess that means I gotta find me a woman and settle down, huh?”
Sly chuckled. “Maybe not quite yet, but yeah.”
Tennessee released him from the grip, and stuck his hands in his pockets as he continued along. “Well, there was that lynx up in Green River. Pretty as a sunset over a whisky, she was, and kind as the lord himself. Mind you, she had a tongue on her like a nest of vipers...”
“Ok, seriously, do you do that with every sentence?” Sly asked.
Tennessee looked at him blankly. “What you prattling on about now, ki-“
Suddenly, a gunshot rang out from very close by. Well trained reflexes kicked in, and both thieves were moving almost before the sound faded away, diving behind a set of crates underneath an overhanging storefront. Bullets whistled overhead, several thudding into the wood of the boxes, as previously unseen coyote stepped out of dark corners and unloaded furiously at the two racoons.
“Well, that’ll teach us to lollygag like two lazy lizards” Tennessee grimaced as he reached down, instinctively, for a cane that wasn’t there. “We’d better make a run for it, kid.”
The reply he got was delivered in pants, and Tennessee turned to his companion. Sly was holding a hand to his neck, blood leaking around his gloves. He glanced at Tennessee’s shocked face, and managed a grin.
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” He said, his customary wit muted in pain, “But it’s pretty sore. We need to get back to the hideout fast, or you’ll be carrying me.”
“Well”, Tennessee said slowly, glancing around him, “We ain’t got nowhere to run, and that door’ll take too long to pick out in the open. I’d say we’re caught like two bears in a steel trap.”
Suddenly, a loud explosion sounded from the other side of the crates, and the crack of guns was replaced with pained yelps and the sound of fist on fur. Tennessee’s eyes widened to near impossible levels, and he quickly spun around to look over the makeshift barricade.
“What in the?”
A purple hippo was laying waste to the thugs that had previously had them cornered. Dressed in a racing helmet and blue shirt, the hippo was ripping his way through the crooks like a whirlwind, punching, kicking and tossing his opponents around like rag dolls. Even as he watched, the hippo picked up two coyote’s and smacked their heads together, before throwing them both into separate barrels.
“THE MURRAY IS UPON YOU!! MY FISTS WILL TEAR INTO YOUR SOULS, AND CREAM THEM INTO JELLY!”
Tennessee blinked at that. Before he could comment on the... passion... in the hippo’s voice, he felt a tapping on his back. Whirling around, he was surprised to see a turtle, sitting in what appeared to be... well...
It looked like a chair on wheels. With tentacles. And what looked like shiny, metal balls with buttons on them.
For once, Tennessee was lost for words.
“We need to move. Murray can’t hold off all of Toothpick’s forces on his own for long.” The turtle looked over at the blue suited Racoon, and gasped. “SLY!”
“It’s okay, Bentley. It’s just a scratch. Give me some bandages and I’ll be back on my feet in no time,” Sly said, bravely- though a brief wince betrayed the actual pain he was going through. Tennessee was impressed, despite that. He’d been shot before- multiple times, in fact. It hadn’t been fun in any way. But the kid was holding up well, considering.
“C’mon. Let’s get out of here.”
“The bullet grazed me worse than I’d thought, but it still didn’t do any real damage.” Sly finished up, his hand tracing patterns on Carmelita’s back. The two were still entwined in the same position, though the vixen had pulled the covers up to cover her shoulders and his torso. “After Bentley wrapped it up overnight, I didn’t even lose any fur. It was only in Berlin that I noticed it, putting on that pilot gear every 5 minutes.”
Carmelita murmured sleepily, under her breath. Sly only half caught it, but he didn’t press her on it. That year had been difficult to talk about for a while now, and he didn’t want to spoil the day by bringing it up.
Instead, he poked her in the ribs.
The vixen hissed and pulled herself up, face once again frowning at him. “Pucha! What was that for?”
“Because it looked like somebody didn’t want to play fair,” Sly smirked well naturedly, before tracing a hand down her navel. “It’s my turn, and yet you’re falling asleep on me. Surely my story wasn’t that boring?”
Before Carmelita could reply, the racoon ran his hand over her head, bunching her locks in one hand as his other ran across her scalp. The vixen chuckled indulgently, letting his actions slide for now. Instead, she waited for him to find what he was searching for, and began talking.
“Cooper, there’s only one mark up there, and you know what caused it. Do you really need to...?”
“Found it!” He exclaimed loudly, causing her to wince and him to sheepishly pull her in for a kiss. After several moments he pulled back, and ran his fingers over the circular raise on her head.
“You know, you shouldn’t be so happy about finding a scar you caused, Cooper.” Fox grumbled, as she prodded him in the chest with one finger. “I might decide to pay you back for it.”
“Come on, inspector.” Carmelita found herself being pulled onto Sly’s lap, and she blushed as she felt the intimate contact. “I never did find out why you were watching me shower. Hardly a tactic from the Interpol handbook.” His hands found their preferred position, around her bum, pulling her in. “I mean, I would know. I read it cover to cover to find the section on bathroom surveillance.”
Carmelita smacked his arms away. “You would, wouldn’t you.” A flick on the muzzle. “Pervert.”
“Pot and kettle, Camelita.”
She shook her head. “Fine. I’ll tell you. But this is the last time it is mentioned, got it?”
“But what about the-“
“No buts, ifs or in cases, thief. Got it?”
Sly brought one hand back to his chest and mimed shutting a lock. The other returned to her backside. Carmelita narrowed her eyes, but let it go at the sight of a cheeky grin that, once again, threatened to melt her into a soppy smile. Instead, she started talking, looking slightly above the head of her lover in order to prevent distraction.
“It was the first time you had ever slipped up when I’d been assigned to your case.”
“The suspect and his accomplices got cocky” Corks’s voice continued over the radio as Carmelita sped towards the block of flats in South London that the criminals were housed in. “They’ve not moved out of the country even after pulling the job. We managed to trace shipments of Granpeed oil to their residence- a rare diamond polish which is the only lubricant that could maintain the full sheen of the Odin’s Eye.”
“With any luck, they won’t have sold it on yet, and we’ll have these thieves behind bars. Two years of work finally paying off.” The inspector grinned as she pulled into an empty parking space, killed the ignition, and reached for her floor holster. “We’ve got him this time, Corks.”
“Err... Them, Inspector.”
Carmelita blinked. “Yes, of course them. He’s just... He’s...” She blinked again, and then shook her head. “Sorry, need more sleep after last night.”
“Is it true what the boy’s are saying about how he...”
“And he got away in a...”
“And what he did to your...”
“Sorry, Ma’am. I’ll get off the line now.”
The click came a couple of seconds before Carmelita’s angry reply. The vixen growled at the handheld transceiver, before clicking the device back into the clasp. She drew her shock pistol, unclipped her seatbelt, and exited the vehicle.
The smell of London varies from district to district- but here, it was primarily chip fat, with a tinge of batter. Carmelita had seen the chippy around the corner which was giving off the invasive smell, and she wrinkled her nose at the pungent aroma. 3 days ago, she had been eating oysters and salmon canapé’s in Monte Carlo, at one of the Ecclebone’s private parties. She didn’t approve of Interpol schmoozing with the old terrier, but she was quite willing to dress up, go out and enjoy a night of tango’s, tastes and table manners.
Then the call came through of Cooper’s sighting. Followed by hours of preparation, a full day of sitting in a car observing a location that turned out to be false, and then the shambles last night that, to her dying day, she would never repeat to anyone.
Even under pain of torture.
And now, here she was, in a dirty alleyway in south London with the smell of grease in her nose.
And also, the smell of victory.
She quickly entered the building opposite the suspects, swiftly jogging up the stairs in order to reach the roof. No-one came out to see what was going on, although she did pass by a young hedgehog and her badger boyfriend coming the other way. They gave her a dirty look as she pushed past them, but she didn’t look back.
Quickly, she exited the roof, and made her way across the concrete to the edge of the building. She knelt down on the lip of the roof, and pulled herself prone, reaching for the set of binoculars around her neck.
She was so close. So close to finally ending this ridiculous pursuit, and focusing on more important things. Honestly, she was getting sick of this hunt. The constant near misses, the ridiculous hours, the desperate flirtations that only seemed to rile her more and more as time wore on. Did the racoon really think that...
Her brain short circuited.
Certainly, it was what it felt like. For a good four seconds, no activity seemed to register. No thoughts, judgements, or potential actions even crossed her mind. She lay there completely unresponsive, only coming back somewhat to reality when a loud noise startled her into alertness. A noise she realised was her own deep inhalation.
The Ringtail was in the shower.
Or, rather, he had just left the shower, and for some reason, had decided to leave the curtains open.
This correction didn’t occur to Carmelita. In fact, it couldn’t have, because the original thought did not actually occur either. There was simple registration, observation, and a pink/red haze that flushed her vision.
Sly’s muscles were mostly hidden by his fur, but there was no denying that the racoon was built for athleticism. His legs were tightened whipcords, with an untamed nimbleness that guided him effortlessly around rooftops, museum interiors and, once, the dance floor of the White House itself. The arms, while slim, seemed quite capable of strength to hold and lift (and caress...). The chest was broader than she expected, perhaps because he was not half crouched as he usually was when she saw him, but standing upright. Either way, it looked like it could take a beating (or a scratch, a stroke, a kiss...). And then, further down...
Dios mio. How did it stay hidden?
Carmelita was stunned. Almost literally, as it were. Her head simply couldn’t reconcile the idea of the cheeky, immature annoyance that plagued her career with the naked specimen nonchalantly winking at her from his bathr-
Carmelita froze stock still. She lost track of her breathing again, and a small, almost indistinguishable noise left her mouth.
Then, she span around quickly, attempting to hide her head behind the lip of the building. Unfortunately, in her haste, she misjudged the distance entirely. Her head connected with the building lip with a loud crack- and she was out.
“When I woke up, I found a bandage round my head, a pillow holding it up off the ground, and a box of Belgian chocolates next to me.” Carmelita glared down at the thief, who was still chuckling. “I presume they were Bentley’s idea, as you are obviously far too immature to think of helping an unconscious woman.”
Sly clasped his hand over his heart. “Carmelita! How could you accuse me of such a heinous crime? Of course I suggested we help you.” He looked around slightly, as if checking to see whether Bentley had somehow planted a bug within the room, before whispering quietly, “Actually, Bentley thought we should leave you.”
Carmelita raised an eyebrow and tilted her head at him, clearly doubtful.
“He still thought of you as a cop.” Sly shrugged, “And besides, you probably wouldn’t have been in any danger.”
“I don’t suppose he thought of providing me with a heart shaped box of chocolates or love poetry either.” Carmelita enquired, folding her arms and tapping her fingers on her elbow.
Sly began to move his hands again, stroking her fur carefully, all the while whistling innocently. At a glare from his lover, he switched to humming, a lilting melody that was too repetitive to be anything but a childhood song. Carmelita knew there would be no answer- Sly was a master at resisting interrogation, despite maintaining a near 100% record of not being caught (Only the purple tigress bitch, Jean Bison and Carmelita herself had managed it: and she was the only one that counted anyway.)
Instead, Carmelita moved on. “It was after that happened that I became... obsessive. I’d humiliated myself and let you get away, and my bosses were not happy. Gradually, I began to focus myself more and more on finding you. I’d take on cases simply because sightings of your gang coincided with them. I once spent two days staking out the hideout of a man calling himself “the racoon criminal” because I thought you’d hit him for everything he had. I only left when you were reported to be in Brazil- and then when I returned, the guy was in custody with a broken nose for shoplifting.”
Sly chuckled. “Yeah. He was too small-time to even bother with. I almost felt sorry for him.”
Carmelita smirked, but her eyes were still unfocused. “It was...” her tone dropped, and she became quieter, more pensive. “It was also where I first thought of you as Sly. Not a criminal I was hunting, but a person that was infuriating, annoying... and yet witty and, occasionally, charming.”
“Occasionally charming?” Sly removed his arms, looking wounded.
Carmelita snorted down at him. “Of course. Most of the time, you’re just a pain, Cooper.”
Sly grabbed her arms in order to roll her over, but Carmelita was more than prepared, blocking his manoeuvre by grabbing his own limbs and attempting a pin of her own. Thief reflexes met combat training head on, blow for blow, and they spent the next 3 hours deciding how irritating Sly really was.
Needless to say, they were both winners.ng here ...