22: incubate, rhinocerous, anvil

by Chris J

"This is hardly a private place," said Joey, pushing his sunglasses back up and looking around. "I thought we were planning on having some time to ourselves this weekend."

Chris just tugged he sleeve playfully and veered off to the side. "We can do that tonight," he said cheerfully. "Come on, it's the first sunny day in weeks, how could you not want to be outside?"

"The park is outside," he muttered. "Our back yard is outside. The zoo is just big and smelly and...here's the kicker...full of people." He gave Chris a significant look that had very little impact considering his eyes were hidden behind the dark sunglasses.

"And you promised it to me weeks ago," Chris reminded him. They weren't holding hands, naturally, but the way Chris was tugging on his sleeve every few seconds, they may as well have been. "Come on, I want to see the whole thing."

Joey rolled his eyes, but smiled in spite of himself. Having Chris cooped up indoors for days on end had been a nighmare, for all of them. It was good to see him burning off some of that energy. "Okay," he said. "Let's do this then."

Forty-five minutes and two ice cream treats later they were standing in front of the rhinocerous pen. Chris had found a kindred spirit in a seven-year-old child, who'd dashed off with him to get some cotton candy, and Joey was left standing with his bemused mother.

"You ever watch road runner?" he asked her, leaning on the fence and looking at the expansive pen.

"Excuse me?"

"Road runner," he said. "And remember all those crazy things that Wile E. Coyote used to do to catch him?"

"Yes..." she said slowly.

Joey turned around to lean his butt against the fence, crossing his arms over his chest, and watched the two 'kids' run around on the paved walk. "You ever wish you had once of those Acme anvils?"

She laughed and turned to him. "Every day," she admitted, holding out her hand. "I'm Tina."

"Oh," he said, briefly considering what to introduce himself as. "I'm Joe," he said, shaking her hand.

"Isn't yours a little old to be taken to the zoo?" she asked, raising a sculpted eyebrow.

Joey rolled his eyes, even though they couldn't really be seen. "Tell me about it," he said. "But try telling him that."

She gave him a smile, then turned towards where her son was pinning Chris down on the grass. "Jason! Get off that nice man! It's time to go."

The boy got up reluctantly and Chris handed him the remainder of the cotton candy before he ran back to his mother. "It was nice to meet you, Joe," she said, ruffling her son's hair. "Have a nice day!"

Joey watched them wander off as Chris caught up with him again. "Do you think they know who we were?" he asked Chris idly, touching his back briefly when he was sure that no one was looking.

Chris shrugged. "Who knows," he said, then gave Joey a happy grin. "That was fun."

"Time to go, then?" he asked hopefully.

Chris shook his head. "The have this whole building they use to incubate the baby birds before they hatch," he said. "It's brand new, Joey. It'll be fun, I swear."

Joey just shook his head and sighed.

"And it's dark..." offered Chris, poking Joey's chest. From anyone else, that wouldn't have been even remotely suggestive. From Chris...it was a promise. Joey just raised his eyebrows, then smiled and followed him in.

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