NOTE: This story is part of a series. For the recommended reading order, see Jackie's Storyline.
Except for the chirping of the crickets in the sagebrush, the world was silent and still as Trotter took Jackie DeCoeur by the hand and led her out onto the long, wooden porch. The nighttime air was warm but dry, and the stars shimmered in the heavens above like a million distant candles. Jackie had just finished putting the last of the orphans to bed, so the white fox and the red-eyed woman were the only waking souls for miles when Trotter guided Jackie’s hands up to his shoulders, before lowering his own paws to rest atop her hips.
Using the crickets as his metronome, Trotter began to hum, giving voice to the first few bars of a jazzy number which had once been popular in Verkell. Then, slowly, he started to move his feet in a simple two-step, nodding his head in time with the music, and giving Jackie’s hips a gentle squeeze. Sure enough, she started to shuffle her old boots across the weathered, knotty wood of the porch, following his lead. Her movements were stiff and hesitant at first. But, as the song continued on, and as the two of them danced, Jackie began to relax, and to respond to Trotter’s gentle guidance. Soon the two of them were trotting together, their bodies pressed close, their eyes lingering contentedly on each other, as they swayed back and forth through the warm Jakkard night.
“You’re getting good at this, you know?” Trotter said, with just a hint of disbelief in his voice.
“I have a good teacher,” Jackie said. Her face still bore a look of effortful concentration, but her two gold teeth glinted from the corners of her smile.
“That must be it,” Trotter said, smiling back. “You haven’t crushed any of my toes in over a week.”
“Guess I’m not too old yet to learn new tricks,” Jackie said.
Trotter nodded in agreement. “Give me four or five more years, and I’ll have you waltzing.”
For a moment, Jackie was quiet, and the two of them simply danced, their easy closeness saying more than words. Trotter started to hum again, segueing into a second tune – an older song this time, slower and languid. His pace slowed to match the music, and Jackie slowed her own movements to match his.
Jackie caught Trotter’s gaze with her red eyes, and she held it.
“You ever worry that you might get tired of me?” she asked.
Trotter shook his head. “You make me happy, Jackie,” he said. The white fox shrugged. “You make me happy, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
“But how do you know?” Jackie said. “You and me? We get bored easy. We’ve managed to screw things up before. How do you know that, this time, we can make it last?”
Trotter sighed, and he stopped humming. Still leading Jackie in the dance, he moved one paw from her hips to the base of her chin, and he angled her face so that he could look deep into her red eyes.
“Years back, I told you how I got tired of never knowing where I’d wake up on any given morning, or who I’d find next to me when I did,” Trotter said, sounding tired from the mere memory of it. “I told you it wore me out. Well, there was more to it than that. I didn’t say it at the time, but, the thing that really got to me, even if I maybe didn’t quite want to admit it, wasn’t just waking up next to a strange face each day.” Trotter gave his head a little shake. “It was waking up next to someone who wasn’t you. That was what was killing me.”
Trotter gave Jackie a little spin, which she executed with remarkable aplomb. That brought a smile to the fox’s face as they resumed their two-step.
“Nowadays, the first thing I see when I wake up are those beautiful red eyes of yours, looking right at me from across the pillow,” Trotter said. “I don’t ever want to face another morning that doesn’t begin just like that.”
Then Trotter nodded to his partner.
“And what about you?” he said. “You told me once that you were flawed if you weren’t free. Think you can put up with me for the rest of your life?”
Jackie smiled back at the fox. Then she slid her arms together behind his back and pulled him in closer, so that the tip of his muzzle was nestled at the base of her chin.
“When I was little,” she said, “I used to close my eyes and imagine the life I was going to have, once I managed to bust out of the orphanage. I imagined all the exciting things I was going to do, all the legends people would tell about me. I just knew that my life was going to be one big story.” Jackie ran a hand through the soft fur on the back of Trotter’s neck. “What I didn’t realize until I met you was that my story would turn out to be a love story. But that’s what it is, and this is my happy ending. So, for as long as you’ll have me, I’m yours. I don’t want anything else. I’m yours forever.”
Trotter shifted his own arms, so that his paws rested just at the small of Jackie’s back. He closed his eyes for a moment and inhaled her scent. She smelled the way she always did, just like he always remembered.
“That settles that, then,” he said.
“That settles that,” she agreed.
“Forever is a long time,” Trotter said. “What do you want to do with it?”
“Let’s not worry about forever,” Jackie said. “For now, let’s just focus on now.”
“Alright,” Trotter said. “In that case, what do you want to do now?”
“Now,” Jackie said, “I just want you to dance with me.”
The red eyed woman smiled. The white fox smiled back. The night was warm, and the stars were bright.
Jackie and Trotter held each other close, and they danced.
Magic: Expanded Multiverse is not associated with Wizards of the Coast. This is a transformative work of fanfiction, protected in the United States under the laws of Fair Use.
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