"Isn't it beautiful?" Shi spoke dramatically, arms raised and spread in a displaying manner, showing off the new office.

            Marcus smiled as he put his hands in his pockets. "Great. Now we need stuff to put inside it. That'll cost even more." He rolled his eyes and scuffed his feet against the gravel underneath his boots.

            "You worry too much! Let me handle all that crap. I'll make the inside all spiffy and sexy, like me." The herm lizard winked, and stepped over to the human, slipping an arm over his shoulder, pulling him against hir. Marcus let out an 'oof' and slipped out of the semi-snug. "Yeah, yeah, you've been telling me that ever since I began this venture with you. And for some reason, I've been nervous every step of the way."

            "That's because you don't fully trust me." Shi folded hir arms across hir chest, giving the African-American a knowing look. "Hell, I don't blame you. I'm a little crazy."

            "A little?" Marcus rolled his eyes again and shook his head. "Doral... that's the understatement of the century."

            "Come on! Let's look inside!" The lizard suddenly exclaimed, and skipped hir way towards the glass doors, before slipping inside. Marcus could only look on in quiet amusement, striking another tally under Doral's eccentricities, before slowly following hir inside.

            It was a giant empty room, fooling the outside onlooker with its rather spacious and roomy interior. Wooden floor covered with a light dust; plain walls with a few cobwebs in the corner; a tiled ceiling with loose light fixtures—all the makings of an up-and-coming insurance agency. "This place needs a girl's touch," Doral said as shi lightly dragged a finger along the ground, scooping up little dust into hir suction-cup tipped finger. Shi turned to Marcus, who stood by the entrance, giving the place an once-over with his eyes, and held up hir dirty digit to the human. "Look. I'm ET. Phoooooone-hooooooome."

            Marcus chuckled. "You sometimes act like an alien, and not the illegal kind." He began to step around the space, checking it out in a quiet admiration. "You... actually seem to have chosen a nice spot."

            Doral grinned, then suddenly flopped hirself down on the floor, spreading hir arms, legs and tail widely. Shi began to move them in sync to each other, in wide, out-stretched waves. "Then help me make dust angels to commemorate!"

            Marcus laughed. "That's okay—you're big enough to make enough for the both of us." He turned around, and his smile disappeared as he watched a familiar car pull up in front of the building. "Awww... damn."

            Doral sat up quickly, hir face going blank as shi, too, recognized that vehicle. The lizard slipped up onto hir feet and followed Marcus as he walked back outside towards the car.

            The passenger door flew open, and out slipped an eight year old girl. "Daddy!" Simone ran over towards Marcus, who scooped down and lifted her in his arms.

            "Hey baby!" He smiled and hugged the little girl against his chest. "Mmm! You're certainly getting big!"

            "Uh-huh!" She smiled, putting her smaller arms around Marcus's neck.

            It was then that the driver door slammed shut. Marcus looked over at his ex silently. When she began to walk over, Marcus lowered his daughter to the ground. "Daddy needs a moment to talk with Mommy. You remember Miss Doral, don't you?"

            Simone nodded. "She has that really fun tail!" She walked over to Doral, who slowly stepped over from behind Marcus. Bending down into a duck squat, shi spread hir arms and hugged the little girl to her.

            "Hey Simone darling!" Doral exclaimed in the embrace, and then lifted her up off the ground as well, causing her to giggle excitedly. "Let's play airplane!" She carefully maneuvered Simone in hir hands, turning her around and slipping her onto hir back. "Captain to co-pilot, please make sure your hands and legs are securely fastened. Over."

            Simone wrapped her legs and arms around Doral's head and neck. "Check! Over!"

            Doral smiled. "And heeeeere we go!" Shi spread hir arms out, imitating wings, and began to make pseudo-airplane noises as shi clamored around randomly. Simone laughed and pretended to steer using the lizard's red hair.

            Marcus looked on, a grin across his lips as he stared at how Doral played so comfortably with his daughter. He then turned towards his ex-wife, who by this time had already stepped up near him. They stared at each other for a brief moment, as if stoically trying to find the right words to say. Or, at least that's what Marcus thought.

            But she spoke first. "Shi certainly has a way with children."

            Marcus nodded, glancing in the lizard's direction. "Shi does." He closed his eyes, and summoned a slight twinge of courage. "I know you aren't here to compliment Doral's babysitting abilities."

            She smiled back at Marcus, with that know-it-all look in her eyes. "I had to see it for myself." She looked at the empty building behind him. "That's it, huh? I suppose your name will be on the lease but not the building?"

            "Don't start...." Marcus waved her off. He knew where this was going. "You know we talked about this. Doral's name is catchier. Marcus and Doral is too long. This has nothing to do with aspirations."

            "Of course not!" His ex rolled her eyes obviously so Marcus could see them, which made him angrier. "Another risky investment, another grand idea, and another chance for you to be pushed into nothingness as someone takes your idea and runs with it. Now you see why Simone couldn't possibly stay with you."

            Marcus gritted his teeth. He never would hit a woman. But people like her seem to make the idea more and more justified. "Oh, I suppose she'll be better staying off with you and your pompous ass father. Who still thinks the 'white man' is trying to bring us down. That's an attitude I love for my daughter to learn."

            Nicole's smile disappeared, which seemed to Marcus that he managed to gain the upper hand. But that insidious grin returned. "Although that's not true, I'll strike that up to the fact that you're jealous of him, since he happens to be... more financially stable." She looked passed his shoulder at the playing duo. "Simone! Time to go!"

            Marcus said nothing as Doral "flew" over and pretended to land. "Hope you enjoyed our flight." Shi winked to the little child as shi hopped off his neck, gave hir and her daddy a fierce hugs, and skipped back towards the car. I wish her innocence was catching, Marcus thought.

            "There's still a job offering at my dad's company, Marcus. But it won't be around for long." Nicole padded over towards her car, but before slipping into the driver seat, she waved briskly back towards Doral and her ex-husband. "You two have fun while it lasts."

            The care drove off, leaving a trail of dust behind it.

            Marcus felt a hand on his shoulder, which he quickly realized was a sticky paw. "Want me to eat her?"

            Marcus laughed and then shook his head. "Nah, I don't want you to get an upset stomach."

            Doral smiled. Shi dragged a finger along Marcus's chest, making light swirls of sensuality across his pecs. "Maybe we ought to try something to forget about our worries." Shi winked at Marcus, her intentions quite clear.

            Marcus eyed the action on his chest and sighed. "Damn, Doral." He turned away from the lizard and kicked at the stones along the ground. "I don't need sex to solve my problems. Sex doesn't solve everything. Sex isn't going to get this place up and running. Sex isn't a cure-all."

            It all slipped from his lips before he even thought about it. He quickly turned to apologize—but stopped short when he saw the gecko smirking.

            "Apology accepted." Doral read Marcus's mind like a textbook. "But whenever you want hon, I'm always here." Shi turned, and began to slowly walk towards the building, speaking in a rather musical, melodic voice. "Just remember this: I never offered to solve your problems; I just wanted to help ease your mind. I know you just want to succeed at the business, to prove to the whole world you can do it. But you don't have do it all without help." Shi spread hir arms out wide, in the similar airplane fashion, but pretended to be walking across a rope, faking hir struggle to balance. "Humans—they're always walking a tightrope, wanting to make it to the other side without the aid of a net, or a pole, or adequate training. So they try to use their will, their religions, their morals and ethics, their codes of valor, their intuition, their personal dedication to cross—but end up falling to their deaths anyway." Shi peeked back behind hir, and licked hir lips, not sensually, but as if to accentuate hir point. "Sometimes it helps to take a break once in a while hon. You don't need to prove yourself to me."

            Marcus watched Doral walk and speak quietly. His stomach turned inside itself as he listened to hir words, each one like a tiny spear stabbing his chest. He couldn't begin to describe it, but this was exactly why he went into business with the crazed lizard in the first place: hir eccentricities, no matter how many, were always second to hir calm and controlled wisdom. It was as if shi knew 'people' before they even knew themselves. Maybe it was because of all the people shi fucked in hir life.

Or maybe it was something more.

"Humans and furs are just different, you know." Marcus said, following Doral's airplane walk back into the building. He knew deep down inside there was another, more serious motive for not sleeping with the hir. Something he could never reveal.

"Perhaps," Doral held the door open for Marcus as he slipped inside. "The key is to understand that it's impossible to understand everyone." Shi smiled. "And everyone needs assurance. And insurance. And hot passionate sex."

Marcus rolled his eyes. "Yeah... that's something you would say." He perked up, remembering something. "On Friday we start interviews. You ready?"
            Doral slapped Marcus on the back. "You bet I am. Get ready, 'cause we're going to have one HELL of a business here!"

Marcus smiled halfheartedly. He didn't know if that was a good or a bad thing.