Cameron sighed as she just got through another session with one of the students from ZPA. It was a long, strenuous session, at that. One she hoped she wouldn't have to deal with again.
The students had started to get accustomed to seeing her around and it was nice not to be met with scrutiny from most of them. The ones that she saw most of the days were Zill, Kayl, Damien and Jack, although she saw Jack for different reasons. The others she saw when she'd drop by Al's theatre class.
The group was wonderful and it actually made her calm down a little. To watch them perform made everything seem a more normal. Like hom, almost.
Until Damian decided that scaring her would be a funny joke. Of course she'd fall for it, screaming her head off until she ran out of the room and into her office. Then it would take hours until she could be coaxed out of there.
It usually took Jackie or Zechariah talking to her for her to get over it. Sometimes Carrie was the one able to pull the fear right out of her, usual with a threat but other times with a gentle tone.
The ginger frowned as she looked over towards the clock indicating that school hours were over. Gathering up her stuff, Cameron plied all her paperwork into her bag, shut off her lights and walked over towards the door when a thought occurred to her.
This is the place she would be staying at forever. There was no going back home, no friends or social visits from normal people. She couldn't have a normal life even if she wanted to.
She was trapped.
Her heart hammered in her chest as she felt a another panic attack oncoming. She couldn't breathe due to the tight restriction in her chest. Her mind went blank as her mouth sucked in all the air her greedy lungs could fit.
"Cameron?" The sound of Fiban's voice caught her off guard. The fox stared at her curiously before walking over towards her trembling form.
Unbeknownst to him his presence was only making it worse. Cameron tried in all honesty to "fix herself" as she force back the tears in her eyes and the uneven breathing.
"I'm fine, honestly..." She uttered out as she pressed her forehead into the back of her hand. Her back was to him and she tried not to feel the bile of her lunch rumble in her stomach.
"Do I need to get Zechariah, or Jackie or even Carrie?" He spoke as the sound of his paws coming closer frightened her even more. "It's obvious that you are not-"
She cut him off. "I'm fine! I just...no need to bother them every time I feel uncomfortable. I've been dealing with this a lot longer than before I got here." She said as she tried to walk past him.
Her sniffling was silent but she had no doubt that he heard them. Cameron forced herself to be quiet. "I don't need Zechariah..." Her voice trailed off as a red, fluffy tail came into view.
It blocked her from proceeding further as her head popped up to face his. The alluring fox just smiled as he stood next to her. "Let me buy you dinner."
"I'm fine, thank you. I just wanna go home right now." She said as she gently pushed his tail out of the way.
Fabian, not getting the hint, continued to follow her. "I understand you don't feel safe but what harm can come from me buying you dinner. We can simply chat and then, I'll walk you home." He stated as his accent grew deeper.
"I don't know."
"It'll be fine. Like I said before, I promise I won't bite." He stated. Cameron watched as his ears twitched with anticipation. "Unless you want me to." He chuckled as blood rushed to her face.
~ • ~
Cameron found herself enjoying the time spent with the fox, even if he keep, not so subtlety flirting with her. It made her nervous but not in the same way one would think.
She was nervous because she didn't want to ruin the calming atmosphere that they created just from talking to one another. That and the fact that he kept supplying her with complements that would make a succubus blush.
It was nice for once to go out with a co-worker and just relax. Even if that co-worker happened to be a human sized fox that could talk. It was still nice.
"Thank you, for convincing me to go out tonight Fabian. Even if it was to a diner." The red head said as she finished what was left of her salad.
"It was no problem. You and I are friends, co-workers. I have very good relationships with my co-workers." He said with a wink. "Very good relationships."
She chuckled nevertheless even though she felt a little embarrassed by him hitting on her.
"I joke." He spoke to Cameron's relief. "No I keep my work specifically, professional. It's the after-hours that have me on the wild side."
He had so much confidence in him that Cameron could barely understand why he chose her, of all people, to hit on tonight. "So my dear, what kind of things do you find attractive in man?"
"Attractive?" She asked as if the word was lostton her. "In a guy..." She frowned upon the question. "Well for starters, he'd have to be human."
"Ouch." Fabian faked being hurt by grasping his furry chest with his paw and woeing. It was entertaining to say the least.
"It's only for starters. I'm sure I can work around everything else." She giggled, finding herself joking back with the fox. "He'd have to be strong in his ability to work, confident and sweet." She said, trying to remember if any of her past boyfriend's had those qualities.
"Well look no further, my dear. For you knight in shining armor is here. That is, if you knock off the fur and race. And paws." He chuckled. "Anything else you desire, my dear?"
Cameron sat back in her seat and admired the creature in front of her. "I guess, he'd have to be everything I'm not. Everything I couldn't be." She said solemnly.
Her eye downcast as she looked out towards the other creatures and carnivores stationed around her. She looked anywhere but at Fabian. She didn't want to ruin the mood.
"You are strong Cameron." Fabian's soft voice struck a cord in her as her eyes met up with his. She felt herself relax all the more as she smiled at him.
When she found him slowly leaning towards her that's when she felt uncomfortable. "Uhhh, Fabian... I'm not..." She spoke as she pushed herself as far from the fox as possible.
"Fabian!" Came the deep growl of their very own cheetah. Zechariah glared at his co-workers and the space between them or the lack of, therefore.
"Zechariah!" Cameron couldn't help the excitement that rang out in her voice. She tried to reel it back by smiling shyly at him. That didn't go unnoticed by the other two. "I'm surprised to see you here."
"I am just as surprised to see the two of you here also." He practically huffed directing all of the blame on Fabian. "You know the rules, no fraternizing with co-worker's."
The fox chuckled seeing what exactly was going on. "Sir, I believe you are misinterpreting the situation. I am merely aiding in familiarizing Miss Cameron with this lovely restaurant and helping her feel more comfortable."
"Why do I find that hard to believe?" He said. His eyes moved from Fabian to Cameron in one single swoop.
The fox jumped out of the booth, his tail fluffily standing behind him. "We were just enjoying each other's company, right my dear?"
The ginger looked in-between the two and found a weird glaring contest going on. Deciding she should step in before anything went too far, she stood up. "Zechariah, I-I'm fine. Honestly. I wasn't feeling too well today and Fabian just cheered me up-"
"You could've come to me. I would've helped you." The cheetah said relaxing in his stance a little. He calmly lowered his head a little as to not frighten the poor woman.
"She didn't want to sir, her instructions were plainly clear as she didn't want to see you..."
At that Zechariah seemed to be shocked which in turned shocked Cameron. She didn't think he's look so betrayed while he thought that he cheered her up quite well last time. Why would she even go to Fabian for anything, unless she was lost or truly sick?
Fabian continued to talk since the other two were too enthralled in their thoughts. "I figured I'd handle the task then and took Cameron out, since you wouldn't suffice." He teased.
If the cheetah was mad before then he was furious with the foxes choice of words. He lowered his head to glare, not noticing the frightened look that crossed their co-worker's face.
Cameron couldn't witness a fight, especially with animals and especially with her co-workers. Panic started to build up in her chest as she backed away from the two. She kept doing it until her body touched that of another. She slowly looked up to find herself looking at a big, harry creature.
An ape to be precise.
His crooked teeth revealed themselves as he looked over her, his mouth moving as he spoke words. "Hey, watch were you're going." It held no malice, no criminal intent but, because he was an animal...well you know how that song and dance goes.
Cameron let out a scream, alerting all who were around who she was. It only lasted a second until she eventually fainted.
She expected to feel the hard, floor against her back but all she felt was the warmth of fur wrapping around her.
When she did eventually wake up she found herself staring at the ceiling. "I think she's awake now sir..." A voice said.
"Give her some space." Another one whispered.
"My dear, are you alright?" Fabian's voce sounded concerned as he popped into view.
"Y-Yeah, I think so..." Cameron said as she tried to sit up. When she did, the extra heat that was warming her back disappeared.
As she sat up she heard movement behind her. Naturally, she looked to see Zechariah standing on all fours. He cast a concerned glance her way. Did she land on him? The thought made her feel embarrassed.
"Are you sure you're alright Miss Cameron?" The cheetah asked ever so respectful and honest. Numbly, she nodded. "Very well, I think you should be escorted home. Fabian has already volunteered..."
The ginger didn't think so much malice could be held in one voice. She nodded as she clambered to her feet. "I guess I will see you two at work. Have a wonderful rest of the night, Miss..." and with more distain in her words, "...Fabian."
With that the cheetah left.
Cameron didn't want him to leave like that, not when he'd been so understanding. Not when she had caused him so much...trouble. Quickly she began rummaging through her bag to get something.
"Alright, my dear, our boss's order to get you home safely so will be-" Fabian began as Cameron had bolted out the door.
"Thanks for dinner Fabian, bye!" Was all he got as he stood by their table, watching her retreating figure. He eyed the spot where her hand had been and saw money splattered on the table. She paid for dinner and left him.
~ • ~
"Zechariah!" Cameron shouted at his retreating form. She had run all the way after him, even though Fabian was supposed to be taking her home.
When she did catch up with him she was out of breath. The ginger placed her hands on her knees to balance herself as her heart beat slowed down. "I'm...sorry...I-I just, I just..." She barely got a sentence out.
"Is there something the matter Miss?" He asked.
"Yes, I mean no. I mean, it's really not that important but I just wanted to clear things up about Fabian." She said as she stood up.
"Really?" He asked not expecting her to be so forward.
"Yeah, it's about the thing he said, about me not wanting to talk to you." Cameron had never seen him look so defeated, like that wasn't what he wanted to hear. "I didn't want to talk to you because I felt I would burden you further. That's my only reason for my actions today."
"You wouldn't have burdened me. I would've gladly helped you." Zechariah said slowly beginning to walk in a different direction than he previously had.
"Uhm, where are you going sir."
"I'm walking you home. You still need to be escorted there safely." It was as if it was that simple. No hesitation, no doubt.
"Oh." Was all she managed to blurt out.
The two walked side by side as they furthered down the road, neither interested in talking more. It was actually a comfortable silence until Cameron felt the need to do something more.
Without thinking she just blurted out the first thing to come to mind. "Thank you for walking me home! I know this is a inconvenience for you since you were already going home but..."
"I don't mind." Was all he said back to her. "I understand your fear and know that the situation you're in is, complex but I feel it can be handled."
Zachariah's tone was light almost as if he was afraid of upsetting her further. Cameron could only smile at him. "I do hope you have no fear of the dark." The cheetah asked.
She giggled at that. "No but I do fear being in the dark with an animal."
"Miss, I am an animal."
At this her giggles turned into laughter. "Yes but you're a big, old softie." She joked as she playfully nudged him with her shoulder. If she saw him smile, she didn't comment on it.