Hux has had enough exposure to humans that he can pass himself off as one–albeit a slightly odd one–pretty damn convincingly. Thanks to the things he’s observed, and a prolonged time spent living with Ren, he’s not surprised by things like cars or soda or cell phones. He always wears clothes in his human form, and actually rather likes big comfy sweaters, and has even come to enjoy tailored things because he understands this is a way of showing off for Ren–and Hux is, above all else, a little show-off.
But some things, a fox just can’t resist being, well….foxish about.
“Hey. Heyyy.” Ren waves his hand in front of Hux’s eyes, trying to break his concentration. They’re at a local carnival, just a little one set up at the city fairgrounds. It’s mostly stuff for kids, a moonbounce and a game where you grab rubber ducks and claim a prize. There’s mini-golf and horseshoes and a bunch of local vendors selling beaded jewelry and T-shirts and sandwiches and lemonade. For a $1 donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, attendees can attempt to dunk the local weatherman into a pool of water by hitting a target.
And there is a little petting zoo, which is causing Hux to go into a sort of hypnotic trance of desire. It’s the chickens, Ren decides, or maybe the lambs. “Hey. Look at me.”
Hux blinks so hard and fast that it’s like he’s got sand in both eyes. Turns to look at Ren.
“None of that here.”
“They’re just, uh! They’re just there!” Hux was standing with both hands gripping the little fence, white-knuckled, but now he’s relaxing slightly. “They’re just right there!”
“How about I buy you a chicken sandwich? And you can go hunt for a rubber duck, too.”
Hux moves away from the fence to lean into Ren. “They’re distracting me. Maybe that’s a good idea.”
They walk around the enclosure where all the pigs and chickens and goats are being manhandled by first graders. As they walk past the chickens, they fluff up and squawk and run away, catching Hux’s scent, and the parents blame their children for being too rowdy, and both Ren and Hux laugh.
“Two chicken sandwiches, please,” Ren tells the young woman selling them at the food tent. Hux has been sufficiently distracted from the fresh, live chickens with the promise of a cooked one so close at hand. Ren can nearly see him drool.
“No bun on mine,” Hux cuts in.
The woman looks a little confused.
“He can’t do gluten,” Ren says quickly.
Their sandwiches, one sans bun, are handed over, and as usual, Hux nearly melts his mouth off trying to eat it before it cools. The way his tongue is hanging out as he pants over the too-hot bite is particularly foxlike.
“How many times have I told you not to do that?” Ren teases.
“A lot. Smells so good though.” Hux nuzzles him. “Like you.”
“Are you calling me a chicken?”
Hux laughs. “You know what I mean.”
Foxes are the least picky sort of eaters there are, Ren has learned, and Hux wants to try everything that’s for sale. “You throw up later, it’s not my fault,” Ren pretends to scold, but it’s really worth the joy of seeing Hux lick up cotton candy with the delight of a little kid. He is similarly impressed by candied bacon and caramel apples, but the jalepeno poppers are too strong for him and he opens his mouth and lets the fried cheesy blob fall out, wincing. Ren helps himself to the remainder and then kisses Hux’s sticky-sweet cheeks.
As promised, he takes Hux to get a rubber duck prize. The number on the bottom of the duck Hux finally settles on correlates to a dud prize–a palm-sized Beanie Baby bear. Hux has no clue what he’s supposed to do with it. “Gnaw on it when we get home,” Ren suggests as they walk away, down to the hill where they can watch fairgoers at the dunk tank. “Bury it. It’s like, reusable prey.”
“Hmm.” Hux is intrigued by that notion.
“Or I can hide it when we got home and you find it.”
“Yeah, why not. Or like, fetch.” He’s not sure if that idea is condescending–he’s not a dog–but Hux smiles anyway and turns the bear over in his hand, like he might throw it for himself to catch at any moment.
When the sun sets, the carnival volunteers set up a big screen at the bottom of the hill so everyone can watch ET under the stars. For the first hour of the movie, Hux is transfixed, but spending hours and hours in his human form makes him antsy, and he starts to shift and look around anxiously.
“Do you want to–?”
“I’ll just walk over to the bathrooms, by the treeline.”
“Okay. Leave those chickens alone.”
He needn’t have worried; the animals have already been packed up and returned to their home farm. Ren watches the movie on his own for about ten minutes when the kids nearby start looking away from the screen and pointing at something.
“A fox! A little fox!”
Ren looks too, and there, a safe distance away, is the faintest glimmer of red fur reflecting the light of the movie. The fox runs, tosses something with a flick of its head, then hops, air-light, once, twice. Grabs it again and tosses it again.
“Mommy, the fox has a toy!”
The mother laughs.
“Maybe it stole it from the carnival, sneaky thing.”
Ren bites his tongue so he does not tell the woman that the fox won it fair and square, paid its 25 cents to draw the duck, and lays back on the blanket instead, waiting for Hux to return, to curl up in his lap, content, ready to be mesmerized by the film once again.