It had been a long day at the office. Everyone waiting for the midtown intersection to say 'Walk' had the same disheveled look about them. The crosswalk sign lit up and the group of furs gathered at the edge of the sidewalk trotted en masse across the intersection. Among them, was a grizzly bear in a gray flannel suit and tie who wanted nothing more than to have the pending subway ride pass as quickly as possible so he could relax with his feet up in his downtown apartment with a cold beer. He descended the concrete steps to the platform far below the hot asphalt and pulled out his newspaper to pass the time as he stood waiting for the C-Line train to show up. Every so often, he would glance around at the glassy-eyed looks of other furs around him and wonder quietly if this tedium was his alone or if it was simply part of life in a big city.
More furs gathered on the platform as the time ticked away waiting for the train. He glanced around again at the crowd. The cars would be packed. Nothing unusual about that. They always were this time of day. He already knew that there was no point in trying to find a seat. They were never build for someone his size anyway. He would stand as he always did. Riding the same train as he always did. At the same time every day.
The wind picked up near the platform and the tunnel to the right of them began to glow brighter. Finally, the C-Line was here. Almost home. Another quiet night with another beer. Same as last night and the night before that. But he did notice that today there was something different. Something unusual in the mist of all the monotony. A scent of lilacs. He sniffed the air again as the roar of the subway train got louder. Someone's perfume. It was thick, gauche even. But it brought a hint of a smile to his face all the same. It was enough to break the insipidity and make this subway ride just a little different.
The train's wheels whined to a stop. Door opened and furs flooded in - most attempting to rapidly claim whatever seats were not immediately occupied. But he was in no hurry. There would be not be any worry of finding a place to stand. Taking his time, he folded his paper neatly and staggered in with the mob, moving until those in front of him stopped, and grabbing onto one of the overhead hand grips and holding his folded paper in his other hand. In truth, he wasn't actually reading any of it. It was just easier to stare at the page during the ride instead of finding a place for your eyes to wonder where you weren't making eye contact with some chatterbox who mistook your random glance for an invitation to tell you their life story. He was secretly pleased that the perfumed one had apparently taken up in the same car. It may have been a gaudy scent, but it was still better than the lingering smell of damp fur from everyone else.
Then, a second unusual event occurred where he found himself face to face with someone. Usually, he was head and shoulders above most everyone else. But today, he found himself looking past his newspaper at the face of a stallion in the same car. The horse was just as tall as he was if not taller. And one quick glance was all he needed to see that the equine definitely took good care of himself. There wasn't an ounce of fat to be found on him. And his muscles threatened to over-stretch the electric blue satin shirt he had on which was accented with a subdued orange silk tie. His shirt looked like it was one size too small and that was clearly on purpose. The bear mused briefly whether he could ever look that sharp if he lost a few pounds. Well… quite a few pounds actually, he chuckled to himself.
The horse nodded towards him with a broad smile and announced his name as Evan. He grunted a return and flashed a half smile before returning to staring at his paper. He didn't need Evan to say he was in sales. His overconfident appearance and wardrobe that broadcasted raw sex appeal said all that. He murmured an acknowledgement as more furs pushed on and the doors finally closed. Evan was apparently determined to make a friend and kept on about markets and funds and where he went to college and on and on. This might have been easier to ignore had the two of them not been crammed face to face right next to each other. Not wanting to be too impolite, he nodded occasionally and mumbled replies to the questions - all the while counting the minutes until his stop would arrive and he could seek solace in his apartment.
Evan was nice enough, no doubt. And his conversation wasn't particularly irritating, quite the opposite in fact. But in truth, he knew that the two of them would have hardly anything in common and at the end of this train ride they would part ways and never see each other again. Though, a little break in the conversation wouldn't have hurt either. Then, he got his wish.
He realized that Evan had stopped talking abruptly. He decided against looking up from his paper lest the equine use that as an excuse to strike up another topic. But as the train turn and lurched through the tunnels he heard a sound that made his ears turn. He slowly lowered his paper and looked at Evan who was now sniffling instead of talking.
He found himself staring at the equine's nose. It was shimmering in the dull fluorescent light. Without realizing what he was doing, he watched intently as the rims of the stallion's nose flexed and shuddered while a hint of moisture gathered at their base. Suddenly embarrassed, he averted his gaze.
"I'm not sick," Evan interjected.
"My s-sniffling. It's not a cold or flu or anything. I j-just… just…"
Evan paused as his lip curled and he shut his eyes. Swallowing hard, the bear realized he had nowhere to duck or even back up as he watched Evan's nostrils flare open wide and take a sharp breath. He winced slightly, but then Evan seemed to get control of himself and sniffled again.
"Oof. That was close. *sniff* My nose doesn't do so well with strong scents - like some p-perfumes."
The lilac perfume. It was somewhere in the train car with them and they were all trapped in here together. The scent that had brought a hint of color to his day was torturing this poor horse's nose. And from the looks of things, it was getting worse by the second.
Evan wanted to scratch his nose that was now itching fiercely. But every time he tried letting go of the handgrip, he nearly toppled over from the constant shifting momentum of the train. And his other arm was all but trapped - pressed up against random passengers who were oblivious to his plight.
"You don't need to look so w-worried. *sniffle* I've g-got it under c-control. *sniffle*" Evan tried to sound reassuring, but his stuttering breaths were less than convincing.
The bear watched as Evan was clearly overcome as another wave of tingles washed over his muzzle. His large, equine nostrils pulsed and flared while the bridge of his nose wrinkled and trembled. Evan's breathing was erratic and sharp. His brow furrowed with desperation as he fought the urge to give in to the tickle deep inside his sinuses.
*GASP*… eeehh-ahhh… *sniff* ehhgghhee… EEEHHHH!... nnnngggggg… *sigh*
Evan couldn't possibly hold out much longer. His nose was trembling all over and starting to drip with irritation. But the ursine was overcome with the strangest feeling - his heart was beating faster. He felt warm. Warmer than usual, anyway. He thought he should be disgusted by the prospect of what was going to happen, but he couldn't turn away. He stared at the scrunching equine nose and couldn't help but find fascination in how this large, strong, ripped animal was utterly losing all composure to the simple aroma of lilacs. It stirred something in him - a feeling that was growing and pulsing right along with Evan's nose. And then…
"HEEHHH! Oh… I… *SNNIIIFFF!* Can't… hold… g-g-gonna... ehhhhh… AHHH! N-no! It… tickles! Gonna… *HHHUURRR-SSCCHEEWWWWWW!!*
He watched Evan's release happen as if in slow motion. All those muscles along his arms and chest flexing and tensing up. His eyes clamping shut. His nostrils splaying so wide you could almost see the nasal cavities twitching, begging for relief from the horrible, persistent itch. His lips curling back as he tried in vain to keep his mouth shut tight. The bridge of his muzzle rearing back as he gasped in preparation for the boisterous sneeze that sprayed out of him.
*sniffle* "Oh!... I'm s-so sorry - but EHH!.. I… NNGGEEHHH!!.. can't.. AHH!.. s-stop… *HURRR-EEYESSSHHHEEWWWW!!* eehhhh… *HIIITTCCHHOOOO!!*
The blasts of Evan's sneezes flew across his face and he felt the feeling inside grow deeper and stronger. He suddenly turned red under his fur when he realized what was happening. He wanted off this train. He wanted to be away from these other furs. He slunk back, trying in vain to keep anyone from coming in contact with him. Most of all, he really needed Evan to stop sneezing - but from the desperate look on the horses face, that was not going to happen. His mouth was dry. His heart thumped in his chest. He vaguely heard the announcement of the next stop coming up.
*HEEEHHH!* *HIIITTCCHHEEWWWW!!* *sniffle* *HEEEYESSHHOOOO!!* *GASP!* *HUUURRR-EEECCHHOOOO!!*
The train ground to a halt at the downtown plaza station. The doors opened and everyone else in the car jostled for position to exit as quickly as possible. Evan immediately took the opportunity to move his free hand so he could rub his itchy nose. The bear winced and silently hoped that Evan's hand would not brush up against his… *erk* Too late.
Evan froze as the two of them made awkward eye contact. Evan slowly remove his hand from the hot lump pressing out from the bear's slacks. Too embarrassed to form words, the bear slid out of the train car and was headed for the stairs when Evan called out.
"Wait! *sniffle* I'm… I'm s-sorry. I mean - for sneezing on you and for, um… I didn't mean to… *HEEH!* *HEESSSHHHIIEEWW!!* *HEEEEYYEESSHEEWWW!!* Ehh… Eh.. AHHHH! *HUURRR-EESSHHOOOOO!!!*"
Even in the throes of embarrassment, the bear couldn't help but feel sympathy for Evan - caught up in a sneezing fit, helpless to stem the tide of prickles in his nose.
"Don't worry about it. It's fine. Really. You should, um… go take care of that nose of yours."
"Hang on," replied Evan, rubbing his nostrils. "You never told me your name."
He swallowed hard, feeling Evan's gaze all over him. "I… It's Gale. I'm Gale"
There was a very pregnant pause that followed. Gale took the opportunity to glance Evan over to see that all of his clothes were as tight as his shirt. He looked up and met Evan's eyes - and could not believe what Evan said next.
"Do you want to come back to my place, Gale?"
After a moment of stunned silence, he stammered, "Y-yeah."
To be continued…