Chapter 1


For Each Their Own


            Marcus walked into the office, one hand carrying a cup of coffee, the other hand carrying a file filled with papers. His body was out of sync, with having to wake up at all sorts of hours to sign for furniture and building permits for the agency, filling out tax forms, meeting with city officials—coffee was his only solace and pick-me-up. He didn't even have time to set up the place to his liking, leaving it yesterday a mess when fatigue got the best of him. I'll clean up tomorrow, at least a little bit before interviews start, he thought as went off to slumber land.

            So you could imagine his surprise when, upon entering, he saw the place was spotless. It was cleaned in every respect: windows were washed, floors were vacuumed, and desks and files cabinets were dusted.

            "Heeey Marky Mark." Doral sang as shi came in from another room, carrying two trash bags. "Like what I done to the place?"

            Marcus sipped his coffee in a quiet surprise. "What time did you come in to all this?"

            Doral headed over towards the front door. "About an hour ago!" Shi called back behind hir as shi opened the door, tossing the bags out on the side. "I was so excited for today; I just came in early to clean up a bit." Shi brushed hir paws clean.

            "I wish I could have your energy." Marcus sat himself down at the front desk closest to the entrance. Placing the file down, he began to open it and sort through the series of applications sent by hundreds of potential employers. "When is the first applicant expected to come?"

            "Eight fifteen. Let me just clean up over here and I'll be over in a sec." The lizard slipped out into the other room.

            Marcus checked his watch. 7:53. He wondered what today would be like. Glancing over the forms in front of him, he noticed that there were a huge variety of humans and furs willing to work here. Maybe they wanted to start over; new companies always had a huge potential to get big if managed the right way.

            If they want something new, they're gonna get it, he thought to himself, listening to the lizard sing in the other room while shi cleaned. He'd be lying to himself if he said he wasn't worried about Doral's attitude during this situation. Not everyone was going to like hir promiscuous demeanor, and he KNEW that shi was going to something so weird and sexually bizarre that they might get sued. He remembered how he tried to subtly convince Doral to do the interviews himself.

            "You can take that week off Doral," he had said to hir. "I know you've been busy with a lot of the paperwork. I can handle Q and A."

            Doral took a sip of hir martini, and then leaned over on the table. "You just don't want me to act like myself in front of everyone."

            "It's not that," Marcus lied. "You've been so overwhelmed. You haven't taken a break in some 3 months now. I can take care of it, honest."

            Doral laughed. Shi stood up and dropped a few fifties on the table. "Hon, I wouldn't miss it for the world. It's my company too, I ought to be there, don't you think? And when you lie," Doral commented, when Marcus's disappointed silence followed hir question, "you shouldn't look all over the place. I thought you were trying to catch a fly or something. Dinner's on me." Shi winked and walked out of the restaurant, her sultry walk causing a few heads to turn. Someone even yelled damn.

            Marcus couldn't only think about all the times he lost on poker nights.


            And now, as Doral sat next to him, with hir feet propped on the table, as if comfortably reclining on an EZ Chair, he could only imagine how many people would leave here after the interview crying about how crazy that lizard was, and how "Doral's Insurance Agency" was pretty much a joke. The latter was his biggest fear.

            "Don't worry," Doral smiled, as if reading his mind. Again. "I got this."

            Marcus could only be incredulous; his plain brown suit was a huge stark contrast to the lizard's wardrobe: black, tight slacks that accentuated hir behind, and a white button down shirt, loosened just enough that you could drop a lead pipe in hir cleavage. Shi looked liked a sophisticated slut.

            "Yeah... just please put your feet down when people walk in. Don't want them to think you're sleeping."

            So when the first person walked in, Doral didn't put hir feet down.



            "Your credentials seem strong enough," Marcus said as he glanced up from the application at the porcupine in front of him. "But tell me: what will you bring to the company?"

            "Well," the spiked creature spoke clearly and deeply, "I'm sure with my masters in accounting, I'll be more than adequately able to take care of your financial needs no matter what happens. I know that I'm more than capable of maintaining all the numerical work that this company creates."

            Marcus nodded. "Well, I'm sure that—"


            Doral's gum popped and shi slurped the remnants back into hir lips. "Yeah, I gotta question." Shi tilted hir head to the side. "Suppose you did a really good job in something. Like... I don't know.... You carried the one on a tax form."

            Marcus and the porcupine looked at Doral.

            "So... like, how am I supposed slap your back in congratulations?" Shi motioned with hir paw, indicating the porcupine's back. "It's like giving a high-five to a sea urchin."

            The applicant stared at Doral with a very confused look, and Marcus, knowing that something like this was coming, coughed.

            "Ahem! What Doral 'means' is that you're a very unique individual and would make a diverse addition to our crew if we decided to hire you."

            "Oh..." The porcupine shifted a bit uncomfortably in his chair. "...well, thank you?"

            Doral smirked. "We'll be in touch, Sonic, so go 'head and run your cute ass of here." Shi winked and licked hir lips.

            "Thank you for coming! We'll call you if we have further questions." Marcus stood up and offered his hand immediately, anxious to get him out of here before Doral embarrassed him further.

            The porcupine eyed the lizard as he shook Marcus's hand. "T-thanks... I mean, thank you sir." He turned and left, leaving Marcus to look back at Doral like shi was insane. "Are you gonna do that everyone?"

            "Probably." Shi chewed hir gum proactively. "I wonder though... fucking him would be pretty hard, don't you think? I'm thinking: 'lots of pillows'."

            Marcus grimaced. It's going to be a long week.



            "I also... er, have some ref... references from... um, my former employer..." The equine didn't normally stutter, but he was obviously distracted.

            Marcus had enough. "Doral... do you have any questions?"

            The lizard was busily playing with a rubber band, making designs and shapes between hir fingers. Shi seemed intent on trying to create the right shape, but silently cursed when shi couldn't quite capture it. "Sure..." Shi answered, hir eyes never leaving the toy in hir hands. "Here's one. Are you as hung as horses normally are? Or should I take that hundred thousand dollar sports car you got outside as a sign?" Shi then suggested the horse 'take his time' when he didn't even answer right away.

            "You don't have to answer that." Marcus said right away.

            "You don't, but it sure would be nice to know. Can't disappoint the ladies." Hir eyes never darted from hir toy.

            "Doral, please! You've been acting like this all freaking day." Marcus spoke through gritted teeth. "Can we just have a normal inter—"

            "LOOK!!" Doral exclaimed, and leaned onto the table, showing off hir final rubber band display. "Eight sided star of rubber. Say it with me now. Ooooo..."

            No one said anything. Marcus closed his eyes and sighed, to which Doral mocked offense. "Hmmph! Sorry, Marky, not everyone has ten fingers like you!" Shi rolled hir eyes and motioned to the equine, whose stunned look was priceless. "Humans, go fig, eh?"

            What did I get myself into? Marcus thought as the equine just stood up and left without even finishing.



            "That mink had to have at LEAST double D's! I mean, they were huge!" Doral exclaimed after their last applicant had left.

            "I don't care!" Marcus was almost at the end of his rope. After every interview, he tried to talk Doral out of doing one of hir silly little games, which only gave hir room to do another silly little thing. He honestly didn't know how much more of this he could take. He just tiredly pressed the intercom button on the desk. "Mister... Derek Powers, you may come in now."

            "Derek Powers? Sounds like televangelist." Doral laughed. "Oh Lord! Save us from sin!"

            Marcus had to laugh at that, even though he didn't want to.

            But when Derek walked in, they both stopped.

            Tall, black, and handsome, Derek walked in with a stride so confident that the aura around him seemed to fill the room. His dark yellow eyes stood out strongly against his black fur, and his muscles almost ripped from his perfectly sized suit. The panther glared at Marcus and Doral as the same time, not even slightly unnerved. He sat down in the chair, brushing his short, sleek, white hair back, leaned forward, and spoke. "You are going to hire me."

            Marcus was stunned, mixed between offensiveness and admiration. He couldn't even speak, what with the boldness of Mr. Powers' statement.

            But Doral spoke up first, clearly not impressed with him. One hand was holding hir head up off the table. "And why is that, Mr. Powers?"

            He spoke clearly, firmly, and a tad bit sensually, as if trying to appeal to the feminine in Doral. "I single handedly bring new companies into profitability. My skills in sales are the best you will ever see. I worked with cars, computers, electronics, oil, other insurance companies, and the list goes on. And every time, I brought profits up from anywhere between ten and twenty-five percent, and all my references will verify. As a struggling new business, my services will be a requirement if you even hope to break even this year. I can guarantee you, in three years time, that you will be the hottest stock out there. That is why you will hire me."

            Marcus couldn't speak. Never in his life did he meet anyone like this. Was this all a huge exaggeration or could this panther be that good? He couldn't even assess him as a person—Marcus was that impressed. Unfortunately, his mind-lag opened the gateway for Doral's line of questioning.

            "That's all well and good," Doral responded in a nonchalant sort of way, which perhaps surprised Marcus even more. He was amazed that the lizard didn't let Derek's demeanor distract hir, although the direction shi took it wasn't to his liking. "But fancy talk is for college. I can talk shit in Super Smash Bros., but it doesn't mean I'm actually good."

            Marcus cringed, and before he could say anything—

            "Well, babe, pardon my language, but I could most likely kick your ass in Super Smash Bros. And that, dear, I'm truly confident in."

            "Bullshit!" Doral exclaimed, finally jerking hir head straight up. "Who's your character? JigglyPuff?"

            "Yeah, right. I use Link. How about you? Yoshi? He kinda looks like you."

            "Maybe, I've been told that. But regardless, I'll beat you down with anyone, anywhere, anytime."

            "Well, you aren't playing eight year olds, missy, so you better bring your A game to the table, cause Professor Powers doesn't accept B+ work."

            "Oh, I'm sorry? Did you say you were thirsty? Let me go see if I have any more cold glasses of Whoop Your Ass left. Or maybe you'd prefer some Cry To Yo' Mamma-Cola?"

            "Nah, I don't drink. I'm in the business of kicking your ass, and between you and me, business is booming." Mr. Powers grin grew across his muzzle.

            Doral laughed. "Wanna expand your business? You better, cause I'm known for corporate takeover. I made the folks at Enron say 'damn'! I—"

            "PEOPLE!" Marcus exclaimed. He had no idea how the conversation deteriorated into the topic about a video game. "Can we please talk about stuff relevant to the interview?"

            Doral and Derek looked at Marcus. The lizard rolled hir eyes. "Fine. Derek, would you like to continue with the boring-old interview?"

            Derek sighed haughtily. "Sure, although I don't know why we should bother. You're going to hire me anyway."

            Marcus swore God was out to get him.



            The interviews generally continued in this manner for three days straight. Whereas Marcus would try to conduct a serious interview, Doral would always seemingly reduce it to some sort of insane game or childish interaction. One time, during an interview with a skunk, shi and she started up the game "Name That Tune," and the game would have continued had not Marcus "escorted" her out of the office. By that time, Marcus simply had given up.

            "I'm never going to win with you, am I?" He asked wearily before the next applicant.

            "Well, not now. But soon." Doral winked, reaching over and pinching him on the cheek. As Marcus flinched, shi called for the next interviewee.

            Suddenly, it was as if the whole world went happy. In skipped—literally, skipping—a very overeager lapine with yellow fur as bright as the sun. Marcus could have swore he heard birds singing in the background as she playfully jaunted toward the desk, and sat down in the seat provided for her.

            "Hi!" She exclaimed. "My name is Marissa Curry, but you two can call me Floppy!"

            Marcus and Doral just stared at her. As the bunny stared back, her front buck teeth jutting out slightly as she smiled, he couldn't help but think that maybe, just maybe, that someone out there was a bit more overactive than Doral hirself.

            Unfortunately, his suspicions were wrong.

            "Well, um... Miss Curry, first of all, I'd—" He began to say.

            "Whoa!" Doral interrupted. "Girl, are you on speed or something?"

            Floppy only smiled harder, to the point that she erupted into a short fit of giggles. "No! Silly! I'm just excited." She began to rock on her chair. "I really, really, really, really want this job!"

            Doral leaned slowly back in hir chair. "Obviously." Shi smirked. "How... old are you?"

            Floppy's long ears perked up. "Oh, I'm only twenty-two. I'm a youngin'. But that doesn't mean I can't do it! I graduated from grad school early." She began to talk really fast now. "Really early. I mean, I was just jamming through classes left and right, nothing was too hard, I was getting all these good grades and then I got the offer to graduate early and I took it cause I know I could do it and I wanted to get out of school really fast and start to pursue my career in accounting because I figured that learning about accounting wasn't practical enough, not as nearly as practical as actually doing it, like, in the real world, and I figured the best place to actually do it was at a new place, like your lovely little insurance company, and I could sit in a little office to the side, and crunch your numbers and make sure all your taxes are done and your payroll's under control, plus figure out all the financial information for all your clients, cause no one 'really' wants to do all that, but I do, cause I just love doing things like this, just sitting in my little cubby hole, with a calculator and a pad of paper, and just adding and subtracting and all that math stuff." She then laughed.

            There was a long pause.

            "What?" Doral asked confusedly. "Holy shit that was a lot!"

            For the first time, Marcus actually agreed. But he kept quiet.

            The butter-colored rabbit just laughed. "Hee! Sorry, I tend to get excited easily." She may have been twenty-two, but the way she was sitting in the chair, her legs folded underneath her butt, she might have been twelve.

            "Yes, I can see that dear." Doral stood up and padded over to the other side of the desk, over towards Floppy. Marcus confusedly watched as the lizard padded behind the bunny, who looked a bit confused herself, but still managed to keep her smile. Doral's paws slipped onto her shoulders.

            "Okay dear..." Hir fingers began to slowly massage into Marissa's shoulders. "Let's try to relax..."

            "Oooo... yes ma'am." Floppy's muscles began to loosen up under the lizard gentle rubs, her toes wiggling a bit in her open-toed shoes. She closed her eyes and let out a cute churr.

            Marcus watched carefully. His mind wasn't fully there; it was worn down with the constant attempts to make sure Doral was under control. So he blankly watched the massage occur, seeing the lizard talk softly into the yellow bunny's ear as hir fingers caressed her arms, hir own yellow-green fingers sliding through the bright fur, gently digging into her muscles, watching them slide into Marissa's shirt, slowly moving against her breasts...

            And Marcus realized he was being turned on.

            "DORAL!" He screamed. He stood up and slammed his hands on the desk.

            Doral and Marissa looked up suddenly, the lizard slipping hir paws from the bunny's shirt. She blushed heavily, the red underneath her yellow fur constrasting sharply. Doral smiled.

            "Well, I think we got all the information we needed. Thanks for coming dear. We'll call you." The lizard winked at the embarrassed bunny, who sat there for a moment, motionless. Doral leaned in closer and pressed hir muzzle against her long floppy ear. "You can go now." Shi whispered.

            Marissa jumped up suddenly, her body shaking with light shame. "Y-y-yes ma'am." She quickly grabbed her things and left.

            Marcus could only glare at Doral, who in turned skipped over and pinched Marcus on the chin. "Oh, don't give me that look. She shut up, didn't she?"

            The human shrugged off the pinch angrily. "She could sue for sexual harassment!"

            Doral rolled hir eyes cutely. "No she won't."

            "How can you be so damn sure?" Marcus could only marvel at Doral's cockiness.

            "Because, if she sues, then she knows we won't hire her."

            "What if we don't hire her anyway?"

            "Oh, don't worry, we'll hire her." Doral smiled and padded out of the room, whistling.

            Marcus's eye twitched.



            Marcus eyed every application carefully, comparing them with the notes he wrote down on every interview. It was about eleven in the evening, and the moon shown brightly through the window, although enough light was on inside the office to make it obsolete.

            The interview process was over and Marcus was glad that no one seemed to mind how Doral acted on all of them—at least overtly. He had always feared some sort of backlash from some of the applicants, but no one made a single formal complaint. He instinctively struck that up to the fact that the company was brand new. He certainly wouldn't give Doral the acknowledgment that shi could indeed manage people so well.

            Speaking of which...

            "What do you think Marky? Tony the Tiger's body, with Denzel Washington's voice, along with Johnny Depp's bad-boy attitude." Shi then began to giggle.

            Marcus sighed. The lizard was wearing a nightie with flipflops on, laying belly down on the floor, like this was some sort of slumber party. He still was reeling from earlier that evening, when shi had yelled "Pillow fight!" and whacked him suddenly with a pillow that he had come from nowhere.

            "Doral... I hate to interrupt your fun, but I'd really like to finish the hiring process here. How about some input? Or... um, did you forget your notes?"

            "Notes?" The lizard slowly lifted hir head up and looked at the applications in Marcus's hand. "I don't need notes. I know them all."

            Marcus laughed, turning in his seat to look at Doral amusedly. "I seriously doubt you remember every single applicant we had."

            Doral smirked. "Try me."

            Marcus decided to play hir game. He ruffled through the papers and pulled out a random name. "Henry Adams."

            Doral didn't even hesitate. "Grey furred goat, about fifty years old. Stuttered. Worked in the insurance biz for some twenty years."

            Marcus blinked in surprise. Lucky guess. He scanned again. "Michelle O'Leary."

            "Female human, straight from the New England area. I could tell because she had that funny accent. She was cute, but had a hard edge about her, and kept repeating how much she "loooooooved" insurance."

            Marcus was surprised now. "Um... Stacy Carmichale?"

            "Oh! She was hot! That fresh-out-of-college mouse had a huge rack and a nice body. Too bad she was dumb as a doorknob. She practically told us she 'slept' her way through graduation."

            Marcus eyed his notes eerily. He wrote down: "Most likely slept with all her professors—doesn't know a damn thing about insurance." Still, he continued. "Um... Nancy Gulliver. Thomas Fulton the Third. Catherine Dawson."

            "Herm canine with an obsession with the word 'success'. Tall British dragon that who never really went to Oxford like he so claimed. The third name you made up because you think I'd get confused."

            Marcus looked at Doral in amazement. Hundreds of applicants over a few days and the lizard seemed to remember every single one. For a moment, a surge of jealousy rose up in him, but he tried his hardest to suppress it.

            But suddenly, the lizard rose up onto hir knees, and wrapped hir arms around Marcus's shoulders. Shi tilted hir head sweetly, and gazed into his eyes. "Hon, no need to get upset. You know I'm a little bit different than most people. If this past week didn't show you that, then you're taking some sort of drug."

            Marcus turned to look at hir. Shi can read people. His jealousy faded away, replaced by a quiet admiration; even though a part of him hated the fact shi was so on top of things. Staring into those lizard eyes, for a brief second he saw a layer of softness to them, a quiet understanding somewhere located within hir solid black pupils, set underneath hir purple eyelids. Shi almost looked sincere. What made hir so confident? So oddly charming? Why couldn't he be as confident as hir?

            Th third question perhaps bothered him the most.

            A flash, and hir usual look returned: witty, unpredictable, wild, and (perhaps) horny. "I'll help you with the hiring process if you answer my question from earlier."

            Marcus found himself, again, victim to the lizard's game. "What question?"

            Doral looked at Marcus with a grin.

            The human sighed. "J-Lo's butt, with Halle Barry's body, and Pamela Anderson's rack."

            Doral smirked. "No furs on that list? Come on... you know you want a little bit of that tail." Hir own tail flicked against Marcus's belly, which he gently pushed away.

            "Hey, I answered your question. You gotta help me finish this." Shi handed the lizard a stack of applications.

            Doral grinned, and wrapped hir arms around Marcus's head, hugging his noggin to hir chest. "This is gonna be the bestest night ever!!"

            As the human struggled in vain to escape his cushioned captivity, he thought not only about the night ahead, but the entire future of Doral's Insurance Agency.

            This is going to be one hell of a business venture.