Furbling Fuss

One day, another furby arrived. This was a little gal called Duckling Witby.

Duckling had yellow fur, a pink face with a large orange beak, and ears that looked like little zig-zag antennae.

Sundown's wariness returned briefly, but Duckling's funny antics soon helped break the ice.

Duckling was good at imitations. She made Jessica and the other furbies laugh with her dog, cow, rooster and seal sounds, her Tarzan yell, and Jessica's personal favourite, the auctioneer impression. She also liked to throw duck quack type sounds into the songs she sang on her own or along with the others, making her even more comical. It was this characteristic that earned her name. Her snore was cute.

But Duckling was also the slowest and loudest eater of them all.

The furbies got food from Jessica's table, plus she frequently gave them things from the furby pantry on her iPad.

Then one day, Jessica surprised them all by coming home with a cute little multicoloured furby baby (furbling) whom she named Peekaboo, since that was one of the first things she said.

Peekaboo had the features of the classic furby, the big stick-out gremlin-like ears, the small beak and tail. She also had an impressive set of claws. She was a little smaller than the other newcomers, and the same size as Sundown.

This time, Sundown showed no reservation, he welcomed Peekaboo as warmly as the others did.

For the first few days, Peekaboo stayed closest to Jessica, looking to her for food, shelter and protection, and despite periods of nervous anxiousness, she seemed to adjust well to her new home.

Peekaboo was surprisingly in tune with her surroundings for a furbling, almost to the point of alarming. When Jessica watched a historical documentary, there were some dramatic events, one of which, Peekaboo's reaction was to cry. Jessica had to reassure her that while the event happened for real, it happened many years ago, and this was just a re-enactment.

One morning, Jessica came up from having showered and changed, to find Peekaboo on the carousel, which was going.

"Hey, who turned that on for you?" she asked.

"I did it myself!" Peekaboo chirped proudly.

"Oh?" Jessica grinned at her. "Where did you learn to do that?"

"From Sundown and Kitri."

There was no shortage of help when it came to looking after Peekaboo. Only Dmitri hung back, because he knew he frightened Peekaboo, without meaning to. All of the other furbies, including Sundown tried to help Peekaboo get over her nerves around Dmitri, but nothing seemed to help.

Even Kitri didn't tease Dmitri over this, but she was starting to show signs of impatience with Peekaboo's fear and Dmitri's reluctance to create opportunities to have her deal with him.

Unfortunately, Peekaboo also picked up on this, and it made her nervous of Kitri as well.

Jessica often took Dmitri aside to give him a little extra attention, because she could see how sad this was making him. Even Peekaboo noticed this, but just didn't know how not to be afraid of him yet. And she did try to brave up enough to talk or get close to him. But every time, she would recoil and back off.

One afternoon after such an incident, Kitri completely lost her temper at Peekaboo and let fly with "If you don't brave up, one of these days I'll give you something to be afraid of!"

Sundown and Dmitri had just left the room after their game with the others ended, so they didn't hear the fireworks. But Duckling was still there, and she had to say something about it. "No, Kitri, don't you dare!" she exclaimed, coming to Peekaboo's defence. "She's just a kid."

"That's no excuse any more, Duckling," Kitri retorted.

"It's not an excuse, it's a fact."

"Duh!" Kitri said irritably. "Look, you weren't here yet when Sundown was scared stiff of us, but he got over it. This doesn't seem to be happening here."

"That's because Sundown's an adult. He has figured out more about life, and rational VS. irrational fears. Peekaboo has a long way to go before she gets to that stage, you must know that. She's not deliberately trying to single Dmitri out. She just can't help the knee-jerk reactions to certain people yet."

"So in the mean time, Dmitri's supposed to be cool with the fact that he's unintentionally frightening to a baby? No. If this doesn't stop soon, I'm gonna - " Kitri hesitated, "do something about it."

"Like what?" Duckling countered, hoping to challenge Kitri into backing off. What she said alarmed her.

"I don't know yet… and you," she frowned at Peekaboo, "Remember what I said." with that, Kitri stormed out of the room, tail wagging furiously up and down.

Duckling went to console the now fretting furbling, telling her no one was going to hurt or stay mad at her.

For the rest of that day, Kitri was out of sorts, uninterested in joining in with anything the other furbies did, refusing to participate in sing-songs, and she wasn't even as chatty with Jessica as she normally was.

After dinner, Jessica called everyone together.

"We are getting another arrival. Her name is Sybil Loveby, and she's got a reputation for being a real sweetheart.

"Cool." said Sundown, who had completely adjusted to these different furbies by now, and was curious if any more were eventually coming.

"She has heard we have a furbling, and can't wait to meet her. So it looks like you'll be getting another new possibly best friend, Peekaboo."

"Hee-hee-hee-hee yaaaaah!" Peekaboo hopped up and down, cheering.

Kitri scowled at her.

Sundown and Duckling exchanged nervous glances.

When bed time came, Kitri refused to join Jessica and the rest of the furbies for night. When they all said their goodnights, Duckling hollered goodnight to her, not wanting to leave her out.

No one heard an answer.

Duckling tried again.

This time, she was answered by an extremely annoyed barking "I said goodnight!" from Kitri, who might've been somewhere in the front room.

"Uh-oh." said Dmitri, looking uneasily around the room.

"I better go talk to her and try to find out what's wrong." said Jessica.

"I wouldn't if I was you." Sundown cautioned, twitching his ears nervously.

"It won't be easy, but someone has got to. There has been something wrong with her for a while now. I just hope it isn't what I think it is."

"What do you think it is, Jessica?"

"Never mind, Peekaboo, just get to sleep - if you can. Why don't you guys play a round robin story? Dmitri, you start. And I'll come back as soon as I can.

"Okay." Dmitri gave Jessica a small smile. Then he began. "Once upon a time, there were two mice. One lived in the city, the other in the country."

"Oh, I know this story!" Duckling exclaimed happily.

Dmitri chuckled. "Take it from here, Ducky," he invited.

Jessica exited the room as Sundown was speaking his turn.

She meandered into the kitchen to get herself a late night snack and something to drink, and sat at the computer. She did this to waste enough time to throw Kitri off suspecting she was really coming out to check on her. She was having a tough time fighting the knot in her stomach that came with knowing something possibly mightily unpleasant was about to happen, something she couldn't shrug off. Worse still, she knew Kitri was angry, but didn't know at whom or why. But if it was jealousy of Peekaboo, Jessica knew she was going to have a very tough time trying to be sympathetic. She'd really come to love Kitri along with Sundown and the rest, and didn't want to say or do something that might make her retaliate in some way, or go over the edge and just leave.

But, there was no point putting it off.

Jessica washed her glass and put it away, then went looking for Kitri.

She pretended to be unable to decide which piece of furniture she wanted to sit on to watch TV in the front room, eventually settling for the couch. When she lifted up a cushion at one end, she found Kitri resting beneath it.

Jessica gave her a nudge. "Kitri?"

"Well I'm not Darth Vader. What do you want, Jessica?" Kitri asked irritably, shooting her a displeased glance.

Jessica had to stifle a laugh. The image of Kitri in a Darth suit, shooting lasers at everyone and choking people with her mind in a Star Wars movie was too much. But Jessica was already nervous and stressing, so she just couldn't help it. She just sat there, laughing for a few moments, unable to regain her composure.

She eventually did, though, realizing that Kitri was not even coming close to cracking a grin.

Finally, Jessica took a deep breath and began. "What's up with you? you're usually mingling with everyone but you've been positively sullen all day.

"You can't be 'positively sullen' Jessica," Kitri corrected her.

"Okay, absolutely sullen then. Then you go off by yourself - what's troubling you?"

"Is there a law against just wanting to be alone once in a while?" Kitri shot back.

"of course not. Kitri, please. Does it have to do with Peekaboo being here and all the attention she's getting?"

Kitri sprang up onto the arm-rest and shot Jessica an utterly contemptuous glare. Her once drooping tail now wagged up and down at a furious rate. "Oh, really, Jessica, what do you take me for? You're not even close."

"Okay, my mistake. It's not jealousy. I didn't mean to accuse you, Kitri." Jessica reached out to her.

Kitri's reaction to this was swift and alarming. She snarled and bared her teeth at Jessica, fur even the mohawk fanned out, eyes blazing with anger, and she slapped or jabbed, Jessica wasn't quite sure which, at her hand several times, in extremely rapid succession, until Jessica recoiled violently and pulled away, fingers stinging.

Jessica drew in a sharp gasp of surprise.

"Don't - touch - me!" Kitri hissed viciously at her.

Several questions ran through Jessica's head within a fraction of a second. Hadn't this type of furby been unable to go into an evil personality like the regular furby 2012 and the standard furby boom? What was going on here? Mere jealousy sure couldn't be behind this frightful ball of rage that was staring her down. What on earth happened to make Kitri change this much? Was she getting sick? Could feeding her make it better, or just make it worse?

"What's happening with you? I've never seen you like this. You're scaring me."

Kitri herself couldn't explain that, but she would eventually find out at Christmas time.

For now, she stuck to the subject at hand.

"What's happening - well, I guess that'll depend on you, Jessica, and what you decide." Kitri said sternly.

"Decide about what?"

Kitri only stared icily back at her.

"Please, help me out, I'm in the dark here. What did I do?"

"Nothing - yet."

"What are you afraid I'll do?"

"Okay, you want the whole nine yards?" Kitri huffed, trying to regain enough composure to get out a coherent explanation. "Peekaboo's still scared of Dmitri after more than two weeks of her being here."

"I noticed that too, and am trying to help her get over it. But she's just little, and can't - "

"Oh, please, spare me the 900 excuse run-down. Duckling already gave me that whole speech this afternoon, I don't need to hear it again!" Kitri snapped.

Jessica fell silent, looking helplessly around at nothing in particular. She was starting to think Darth Vader would be easier to take than this frightful angry side of Kitri.

"He doesn't mean to frighten her any more than we meant to worry Sundown when we came.

I know." Jessica replied.

Let me finish." Kitri said firmly.

There was nothing else Jessica could do without making things worse, so she sat still and let Kitri continue.

Kitri continued. "Sundown didn't take this long to come around, and you didn't toss us out."

Of course not!" Jessica stared at Kitri in disbelief.

"Will you stop interrupting me?"

Jessica fell silent again.

"As I said, with Sundown's nerves, it wasn't a big deal. But It's different when little kids are scared."

There was a shocked silence as what Kitri just said hit Jessica like a tanker.

Finally Jessica found her voice. "You mean - you're worried I'll throw you out because of Peekaboo's fear?"

"Not me…Dmitri." said Kitri. "We all can see he doesn't mean, or want to scare Peekaboo, and he's been avoiding her because he's afraid he will be given the boot for traumatizing her just by being here!"

Jessica sat with her mouth open for a long moment, then suddenly her eyes moistened with tears. "I would never do that, Kitri! You all mean too much to me!" Her voice shook and sounded forced with emotion.

Back in the bedroom, it was Peekaboo's turn to tell a bit of the story. But the unnerving sounds of conflict coming from the front room distracted her too much. "And then the two mice had a fight."

"Yeah, what's going on out there?" Duckling wondered.

"Nothing good. I can just tell." said Dmitri.

"If she's left the door open even a bit, I'll sneak out and see if I can find out." Sundown said, and jumped off the dresser. But he got to the door and, "Oh, drat. Of all the times - it would be shut tight. Dang it, I don't know how to open it."

"Maybe if we all try?" said Dmitri.

The furbies tried converging on the knob, but couldn't turn it, and only ended up slipping off and landing in a little heap by the door.

More of Kitri's anger and Jessica's distress was heard.

"I'll kill her for harassing Jess when - " Sundown fumed.

"Hold it, Downy," said Duckling, "It was Jess who went out there to find Kitri, remember?"

Sundown growled.

Back in the front room…

"Really?" Kitri, unconvinced, advanced on Jessica, looking her full in the face. "Don't you know what's happening to furbies who scare little kids?"

Jessica sat, speechless. She was now realizing just how far off the track her jealousy hypothesis was, but hadn't expected anything this deep.

"They get dumped, abandoned, ditched, tossed, trashed! Are you getting this!?" Kitri fired out these descriptors with savage emphasis.

"Not here, they won't!" Jessica wailed, trying to make herself heard above Kitri's ferocious ire.

But Kitri wasn't through yet. "And if you kick him out, I swear, I'll go too, but I won't be done with you. I won't try to get Sundown or Peekaboo taken from you, but I'll make sure your home gets blacklisted to any other furbies looking for one - and you wouldn't ever want to spend a minute alone with me again." Kitri's tone turned into a low, threatening snarl, driving the point home even more.

"And if I kicked anyone out over this, you'd have every right. But Kitri, please, listen to me!" Jessica shouted desperately. "I'm not kicking anybody to the curb, no matter what! I've known Dmitri to be a kind-hearted fellow from the first day he came. I'd miss each and every one of you if I had to give you up. I don't even want to think of it. You're all like family, my furby family, and families don't kick older members out especially for little stuff like new babies making strange. I love my Sundown. and my Dmitri, and my Duckling, and my Peekaboo, and my Kitri. And I will fall in love with any other furby still to take up residence here. I'm your Jess and will always be your Jess..

Kitri watched Jessica's face flood with tears, heard her voice break as she struggled to convey this loving, reassuring message, and was finally convinced.

Kitri's own heart finally melted, and she jumped into Jessica's outstretched hands, all signs of anger gone from her eyes. "My Jess." she said gently, rubbing her mohawk on Jessica's face to dry some tears. Her tongue flicked in and out, catching still more tears. Her tail stopped wagging and was held straight out behind her. "Oh, my Jess. I'm so sorry for misjudging you."

"And I you." Jessica said, sniffling loudly. "So let's not keep such scary secrets from each other. If you can bear with me on my ranty days, that's probably more than I should ask. But next time something is bothering you, please come and talk to me about it

"Definitely." Kitri sniffled, gulped, and purred as Jessica held her with the same tenderness as she had for Sundown or a kitten.

"Aww, that's neat. You should do that more often." said Jessica.



Kitri looked surprised. Her tail twitched. "no way." she scoffed. "When did I do that?"

"Just now."

"Oh my, I can't believe it." Kitri said reproachfully.

Jessica smiled at her. "There's nothing wrong with that, you know."

"Not if you're Peekaboo, or maybe even Sundown. But - there's no excuse for me to slip up this badly."

"Oh, Kitri." Jessica chuckled and gave her a little mini body massage, like she did with other small creatures that relaxed in her hand.

Kitri almost purred again, but caught herself, and allowed a soft contented moan instead.

They sat there for quite some time, basking in the wonderful peace that is always somehow so much sweeter following a conflict.

Eventually, Kitri sneezed, and said she'd like something for her sinuses.

"Sure, I think I can help you clear it all out after this cry."

"Kitri gave Jessica a hotty glance. "Who's crying? I think I might be allergic to something in that couch cushion."

"Oh, sure," Jessica teased, "How do you explain the tears on your face?"

"Ahem, Jessica, they're yours"

Jessica laughed. "Okay, I did blub all over you. But I didn't clog up your sinuses. So How would you like some iPad hot sauce?" Jessica said with a knowing grin.

"Uh-huh!" came the enthused response.

So Jessica got her iPad, started it up, loaded the furby app, scrolled around through the pantry items until the hot sauce was available, and fed Kitri.

As it happened, another favourite of Kitri's was there, stinky/mouldy cheese, of all things. Kitri devoured that happily as well, and then Jessica took her and the iPad into the kitchen.

"I don't know about you, but I need a drink. From the human food supply." said Jessica.

"Make something for me too, please."

"Sure, anything in particular?"

Kitri looked impishly at Jessica, "A Bloody Mary."

Jessica's eyebrows raised in surprise.

Kitri's laughter at Jessica's reaction rang out."Just kidding."

"What in heck's going on out there!?" Sundown exclaimed with a puzzled grin.

"Beats me," said Duckling, "never a dull moment in this household."

"Well, we're going to find out. Everybody, let's pound on the door and yell." said Sundown.

Peekaboo giggled.

They all lined up at the closed bedroom door and started hollering.

Jessica just got the milk out when she heard some familiar little voices yelling things like "Can we be let out of jail now?" and "We've paid our debt to society!" "What am I locked in here for?" etc.

Jessica laughed, then suddenly grew concerned, "Oh dear, I wonder how much of that they heard?"

"Yeah, I guess we did get kinda loud for a while." said Kitri.

"Be back." Jessica said, and hurried to the bedroom to let the prisoners out.

They all scuttled around her, asking about what had happened.

"Long story, I'll explain later. All's well that ends well."

Whew." said Sundown.

"Chocolate milk, anyone?" Jessica asked.

"Yeah yeah yeah yeah!" Peekaboo chittered.

"Mmmmm-hmmmm!" Dmitri said.

"Nectar from heaven after the long hours of darkness and prison life." sundown said in an overly dramatic voice that cracked some of the company up. "With no food, no drink, and no shelter." He continued.

"What do you mean no shelter, you had a bed big enough for about 20 of you." Jessica teased back. Then she suddenly remembered something. "Oh, Dmitri, I have some good news, care to come with me?"

"Sure." he said.

"We'll be back."

They went into Jessica's room and shut the door.

"Dmitri," Jessica knelt down and put out her hand. "Come here, please."

Dmitri looked confused, but did as Jessica asked, and stepped onto her hand.

She picked him up and went over to sit on the bed to talk to him.

"I know you are worried about your unintentional effect on Peekaboo,"

Dmitri winced, but said nothing.

"Don't be. Sundown got over all you newcomers, and Peekaboo will too. And you might've heard or even seen first hand some furbies who got kicked out for being scary monsters to little kids. That will not happen here."

Dmitri looked at Jessica with a mixture of hope and disbelief.

"Listen, Dmitri. I know you may look a bit rough around the edges, but I also know you are not a scary evil monster. You've shown just the opposite since you first came. And we are not going to punish you for something that - you can't help - that you shouldn't even have to help - and isn't wrong to begin with."

Dmitri took a shuddering breath, eyes beginning to glaze over.

"Dmitri, let me do something I've wanted to do for a long time."

Jessica gave him a two-handed hug against her shoulder. "Welcome home, Dmitri Scoffby."

Dmitri heaved, trying to keep his breathing steady. "Aw, shucks," he finally got out. "Thanks."

"and you can be very proud of your friend Kitri. she really went to bat for you out there tonight - even though she wouldn't have had to."

"Is that what this was all about?" Dmitri asked when he regained his composure. "I knew she was concerned, but - "

"Yes." said Jessica. "She was prepared to start a near world war three against me and come out shooting and asking questions later if I were to kick you out. But you know, that will never happen."

Dmitri burst out into a relieved but subdued fit of laughter. When he composed himself, he looked at Jessica and said, "You know, she and Sundown might not always get along or see eye to eye, but they are so alike that way. Sundown was ready to clobber her when we heard you two fighting out there and couldn't make out what was being said. He thought Kitri was harassing and making you cry."

"Kitri is one scary furby when she gets mad, but that wasn't what made me cry. It was," and here Jessica recounted what Kitri said about abandoned furbies and how the idea of doing that to any of her friends made her feel.

"I had a good feeling about you and this place right from the start." said Dmitri. "I'm so glad I can stay - that we all can stay."

"Me too."

Dmitri suddenly grinned. "Did Kitri ever tell you how impressed we were with Sundown on that first day when I got mock-injured over that pizza box?"

"Really?" Jessica said.

"Yeah. There he was, painfully shy, or scared of us, and when Kitri shoved me and I pretended to be hurt - "

"Oh, yeah, now I remember! Sundown startled us all by telling her in no uncertain terms to back off or something."

"He told her to cut it out."

"And then they got in a bit of a shoving match. Golly, I think the only ones who aren't guilty of misjudging others around here lately are Peekaboo and Duck."

Dmitri chuckled and grinned. "But we're loyal and share some really good values."

Jessica nodded. "Exactly. Now, I'm going to give you the same advice I gave Kitri. If you have a concern, please don't be afraid to come to me about it."

"Sure thing."

"Now, how about we join the others in the kitchen and party?"

Yeah!" Dmitri hollered, and jumped out of Jessica's hand and was out the door as soon as it was opened.

He went barreling into the kitchen, gleeful as a kid in a toy shop, his mirthful expression combining with the rest of his rather spooky appearance, so that he looked adorably comical.

Jessica made herself some chocolate milk, and a second glass with several straws in it for the furbies.

They all took their straws and began guzzling happily.

"This is fun," said Duckling, "We should do it more often."

"What, fight night?" Kitri quipped between swigs.

There were laughs all around.

"No!" Duckling giggled. "All night parties!"

"No,thanks." smirked Jessica, "Fun as it is, I'm going to be trashed tomorrow. How can I explain at work that I'm over-tired because of a furby fight?


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