Wherein a anti-social skunk enters the picture. Phew.

This is set in the "Tales from the Blind Pig" universe.

I was having trouble getting the voder to operate, so I shifted my throat up to human. It always sounds a little raspy when I do this, but the words came out clear enough. "You want a what??" I was looking at Kerry like she had grown an extra head and that flames had started shooting out her ass. While the latter could have been true, (it was chili night) the former was impossible for even my powers to execute.

"You heard me right. I want to adopt a child. Seeing as I can't have one, I want to adopt one."

My mind boggled for a bit. We both knew that we'd never have a child on our own. My DNA was too far changed, and her own unique situation left her sterile. She didn't want to risk that. In any case, it was time to pop this bubble as well. I sighed.

"Kerry, do you know what type of process an adoption typically takes? We'd never pass, with my back ground, and our conditions." Even though my record had been cleared and expunged two years previous, it still haunted me. And as usual, Kerry did an excellent job of blindsiding me.

"I already talked to several agencies, and found one that is willing to not only give us a change, but also specializes in SCABS. Your disability is not a factor. As for your record, it came back clean, so there was no worries there. they didn't ask, and I sure as hell didn't tell them."

That pretty much ended the argument there. Seeing as we had some time off coming to us, we not only got one of the spare rooms cleaned up, but also went through the entire process. They didn't flinch at the fact that I prefer spending the large majority of my time in full morph, nor did they care about the fact that every once in a while I went semi-feral. (This was the closest I could tell the truth without turning it into a lie.) I did stress to them that I was safe in any case. In any case, the agency we were going through approved us (to my surprise) and we had a good lead about a month afterwards.

The agency told us that his name was Alex, a 7 year old, male skunk-morph. He had bounced around foster homes, and the welfare department was looking for a SCABs couple that would be willing to take him in, even with his issues. He was doing poorly at school, he had behavior problems, and was generally very anti-social. The caseworker at the welfare department thought that we would be a good match, even with my tendencies. His parents had given him up when they lost their other rights after going to jail for drug dealing. Not much else was known, except that Alex's morphology was about 60/40 human/skunk. He had the glands, and also the temperament. When we home to think about it, the second thing we did was buy several cases of tomato juice, along with oder removal chemicals. My vet was pretty helpful in this regard, who also agreed to see him for any medical issues that might arise. I also mentioned this to my lawyer, who made some 'hmmm' style noises, and said that he would do some checking on my behalf, and for free no less. After a week of mulling it over, (and after buying said cases of tomato juice) we agreed to take him on.

Alex's arrival was what one could possibly expect. The caseworker was hopeful, we were apprehensive on how Alex would accept us, and for the most Alex was flippant about the whole issue. In the space of about two hours, the caseworker was in the great room with us, and Alex was holed up in the room we had converted. "That went well", I commented dryly. June, the caseworker, nodded sagely. "It took a bit longer this time around, at least. The last time we did this he was waiting by the car when I left the house." She left about ten minutes afterwards after leaving us her cell phone number in case of an emergency, and said that she'd call later in the evening to check in. About ten minutes after she left, Alex had, true to form, tried to make a break for it. We heard a large thud as Sam reported to us that Alex was trying to get out via the window. I triggered the intercom. "Alex, it's an armored window. *I* can't even bust through it, and I out-mass you by at least a factor of two." His response was a lengthly litany of profanity and abusive remarks about my parentage, which made me start laughing in spite of myself.

We decided that enrolling him in a school would be far too troublesome, so between Kerry and myself we decided to home school him. What little testing that had been done on him showed him to be very smart. I snooped a bit into his mind unobtrusively and found that he was also a very street smart, but also very scared. We decided to not let on that we knew that until he came out with it himself. It took a few months of... interesting events, but we finally got onto good terms (grudgingly) with him. This involved the cases of tomato juice, sadly, although once we warned him about what we would do with him he stopped that little problem. It also involved him, uh, stewing in his own juices overnight the second time when he sprayed his room to try and keep us out. Apparently he forgot that we could shut the vents down in the rooms. In any case, he finally started to mellow out with us and open up. It was not an overnight thing, but he began to accept that we actually cared for him.

The defining event that cracked his shell for us was about six months after we took him, and we all came up for review. Even though the caseworker said that we had done quite well, The state wanted him back in a proper school, despite the fact that we had done better with him then the multiple schools that he has been in and out of. In addition, his parents had gotten out on parole and wanted custody back. When I mentioned it to him, he turned absolutely pale under his fur. It took a few minutes for the two of us to snap him out of it.

"Alex! Are you ok?" He finally snapped out of it, and latched onto me with all his strength. Fortunately, I was in my armored morphic form, as he used his claws when he latched on. "Don't make me go back! PLEASE!!" I looked down at him. "Why not?" The look on his face showed that he was at war with himself, and I knew what was going to happen. "Sam, initialize recording, please." Sam came back instantly. "running now." Alex looked back at me. "Why do you want to record this?" I nodded severely at him. "Because it's needed.The recording won't go anywhere without you, me, and Kerry knowing about it. I promise you that at the very least." He nodded. "My dad... did things to me. He said that he loved me in a special way." The rest of it came out in a slow ramble, with tears and the entire breakdown package thrown in for good measure. I nodded to Kerry, who grabbed a phone and left the room to call Mr. Sand, our intrepid lawyer. After he finished, I found that he was hugging me harder then he had ever done so. He had also drawn blood from his claws, but that was OK, as I was in my armored form. Kerry was leaning in the doorway. She had not interrupted one bit. "Mr. Sand and Dr. Hatfield are enroute." Alex looked over at her. "Who are they?" I answered for her. "Mr. Sand is my lawyer. He's on your side in this case. Dr. Hatfield is a shrink who helped me a lot several years ago. I think he can help you, if you want him to." Alex looked at me.

"Why? Why are you doing this for me?" I hugged him back. "Because We want you to be the best you can be. Because we think you are someone special who deserves the best change at life that you can get." Kerry broke in with the last one. "Because we care for you like no one else has, including your biological parents."

Dr. Hatfield arrived before Mr. Sand, and started talking to Alex right away. Mr. Sand came in, and we interrupted the impromptu session to get Alex's permission to play the recording back to Mr. Sand. Jed wanted to hear it as well, so we all trooped into the great room where Sam had queued it up on the main screen. Seeing it played back from the security camera point of view was.. interesting. It also showed just how badly I got mauled as well, but that healed up in it's usual quick manner after Alex let go of me. Afterwards, Jed wanted to continue with Alex, and Mr. Sand wanted to talk with the two of us. They both ended up staying for another two hours or so, and we had a plan formulated that would hopefully allow us to keep custody of Alex. To that end, we called the caseworker the next morning and tried to explain what had happened, but we got her voice mail on a consistent basis. This continued all the way up to the court date, when we found out that she had been fired, and that the caseworker that had taken over Alex's case was the one trying to put him back with his parents in the first place. Fortunately, the judge was a good sort and talked directly to Alex to find out his wishes before ruling in our favor. The biological parents were to have supervised visits, but at their place instead of ours. We all agreed on this, and we though everything would be fine. The first two visits went as planned. Alex's new caseworker was the court assigned supervisor, but I had the nasty feeling that something was about to happen. As usual, I was proven right.

The third visit start out just fine, until I turned around to get something out of the car. I had taken two steps out the door when I was blasted off my feet by a slug from a 12 gauge shotgun they had somehow gotten. Fortunately, I was in my armored form, so it was mostly an inconvenience for me. As I started up, I heard/sensed them turn around and bolt the door shut. Kerry and Alex were still inside, and my blood ran cold as I heard yelling. 3 seconds later, I was on the phone to the police, who came tearing up in a minute or two. As I was waiting for them, I started on a backup plan. The police took the usual route of barricading themselves outside and laid siege to the place. I had a better idea. We had just gotten Alex a laptop with a datalink card, and as luck would have it, he was using it there. A quick chat session later, I found out the room they were being held in. 45 seconds later, a gate shimmered to life on the front lawn to the closet. The police looked at me oddly. "It's a gateway to the room they are being held in. I'm going to get my mate and my foster child. Give me cover." I shifted upward to my -taur form, and went right up to the gate itself. One whiff of the air from it, and I knew something needed to be done, and soon. I 'ported a gas mask I had from the house, and thought of something. I still had my communicator, and I sent a last message to Alex telling him to use whatever method he could to get his parents away from him and Kerry for a few seconds. I stepped into the closet, and as I went to open the door, I heard him arguing with his parents. Then I heard something strange. "Alex! Put your pants back on! What are you-" Kerry damned near ripped the hinges off the closet door and ran past me through the gate. I saw Alex with his pant around his ankles, ass facing his recently sprayed parents. I grabbed his pants, and probably gave him an ultra-Wedgie as I hauled him out of the house through the gate. By the time his parents could react, I had the gate closed. The police took the three of us away from the house, and behind the SWAT van that had been dispatched when they found out I was involved.

We were ALL in court several days later and got things hashed out over that session and several other sessions over the next two months. This time it resulted in no charges against me, Kerry ,or Alex, revocation of the parent's parole, and custodial interference charges against not only the caseworker, but the welfare agency itself. They were also sued by June for improper dismissal and she won. It took a few more months, but things slowly got back to normal. At least as normal as this family had become.