First of May

Fred arranged a plate of scones near the fire, then poured water from the kettle into a pitcher that he had lined with a cloth bag of coffee grounds. Freki sniffed at the scones, then padded away and upwind of the fire.

"What are you doing, Dad?" Freki whined. "It stinks!"

"I'm making breakfast," Fred said. "A special breakfast, for a special day."

"But there's no bacon!" Freki complained.

"Not yet, sillywoof," Fred laughed. "That's next."

"Bacon?" Freki asked, his ears standing to attention.

"Yes, sillywoof," Fred said. "Bacon. But you're going to have to wait. Why don't you see about catching a rabbit for Sharp-Eye?"

"Why's she so big, Dad?" Freki asked.

"Because you're about to be a dad, goof," Fred laughed. "Now go on, catch something yummy for her."

Freki cocked his head, then let out a yip and bounded off.

Faern'ya opened the wagon's window and stuck her head out, blinking uncomfortably at the morning light.

"Gods, Fred," Faern'ya complained, "can't you keep him down? I'm trying to get some sleep in here."

"He's off hunting," Fred said, "so you should be safe for a while. Sorry about that."

"Just ...," Faern'ya started, then trailed off, sniffing the air. "What is that horrendous smell?"

Fred sniffed, then shrugged. "No idea. All I smell is coffee."

"Coffee?" Faern'ya asked. "What's that?"

"Something that grows in Chult," Fred said, "that's so hard to get that, even through Aurora's, it costs a hundred gold an ounce."

"And it smells like that?" Faern'ya asked. "Why would anyone spend the money?"

"Because it's good," Fred said, grinning. "And because, if you make it right, one cup can keep you awake all day."

"I don't want to be awake," Faern'ya grumbled. "I just got off watch, and the sun's up. I want to sleep." She retreated back, into the wagon, and slammed the window shut.

"Drow," Fred muttered, with a smile, and shrugged, then checked the progress of the water through the coffee.

"Is that coffee I smell?" Aribeth asked, walking out of the big tent with Sharp-Eye at her side. Sharp-Eye looked as if she were about to give birth any day, while Aribeth looked as if she had just spent a few minutes brushing her hair and picking the right clothes for the day.

"Sure is," Fred said. "I'm still making it, so you might as well sit down and relax."

"Not happy," Sharp-Eye grumbled, while padding around the fire until she found a spot upwind, scratched at the ground until she was satisfied with it, then flopped down. "Stinks."

"What do you think, love?" Fred asked. "You think she'll have them today?"

"If not today, then in the next couple days," Aribeth said. "I'll get some meat out. You weren't expecting those baked goods to be all we eat, were you?"

"Nope," Fred said, with a grin. "They're here for Lada's sake."

"Why do I see the beginnings of a practical joke in your eyes, my love?" Aribeth asked, chuckling.

"Oh, it's not a joke," Fred shot back, grinning wickedly. "Just something that'll make her want to implode with embarrassment."

"You're an evil, evil man, my love," Aribeth laughed. "Now ... ham, bacon, steaks ...?"

"Your choice, love," Fred said. "I'll cook whatever."

"Good," Aribeth said, taking a bundle of steaks out of the wagon's food storage compartment. "We should have something with these ...." She dug around in the compartment some more and pulled out a bag of potatoes and a second bag, filled with apples.

"Ug," Ulf rumbled, stumbling toward the fire and rubbing his claws through the fur on his face. "What is that horrendous stench?"

"That 'horrendous stench', as you call it, is the ambrosial aroma of coffee," Fred stated, waving a spatula at Ulf. "So don't you dare pour it out."

"Ambrosial, he says," Ulf grumbled, and sat down near Sharp-Eye. He reached over to the wolf and gently ran his claws through her fur. "Delusional, I say. How's your cubs, little one? Ready to see the world yet?"

"Ambrosial?" Angus asked, poking his head out of the tent he shared with Lada. He sniffed the air, then, pulling his head back into the tent, said, "Call me when the stench is gone."

Below Angus, Reepo stuck his head out, sniffed, then retreated with a disgusted huff.

"What?" Fred demanded, lifting the bag of coffee grounds out of the pitcher and checking the color of the liquid inside. "This is good coffee!" He sniffed the pitcher, and added, "At least, it smells good."

"Coffee?" Lada asked, stumbling out the door Angus had just retreated through. "You found coffee? Oh, you love me!"

"That's right," Fred said, grinning as he poured the coffee into mugs. He picked up one mug and one of the scones and offered them to Lada. "Here you go, love. A scone and a large house blend."

"Doesn't the house blend involve milk and sugar?" Lada asked sleepily, then she opened her eyes and asked, turning pink as she did, "Wait ... what day is it?"

"Here you go, love," Fred said, as he held up a small pitcher of cream, and a plate with a cone of sugar and sugar tongs on it. "As for what day it is ... how should I put it ...?"

"I think we're in trouble," Ulf rumbled softly. "He has that 'I'm going ot assault your ears' look in his eyes."

Lada squeaked, handed her mug and scone to Aribeth, and fled toward her basket, while shifting down into her housecat form.

"I knew it," Ulf said. "If she's fleeing, he's going to sing."

"I woke up this morning," Fred began singing,
I had a scone and a large house blend,
And then a little conversation with my squirrel and chipmunk friends."

"Nothing unusual so far," Ulf said.

"I said I'm sick and tired of winter," Fred continued, ignoring the peanut gallery,
And I wish that it was spring,
And then a little fellow named Robin Redbreast,
Began to sing,"

Aribeth giggled as she crouched beside Lada's basket and petted her. "What's wrong, sweetheart?"

"Listen," Lada whimpered, her paws over her face. "And the video! You've never seen that, but oh!"

"And he sang," Fred continued,
Ooh ooh child, what'd you think the cold winter's gonna last forever?
Ooh ooh child, it's time for all the people to come together

"Well, it's finally warm enough for all you furless types," Ulf rumbled, barely suppressing laughter.

"Cause it's the First of May, First of May," Fred continued, grinning wickedly in Lada's direction,
"Outdoor fucking starts today,
So bring your favorite lady
Or at least your favorite lay
The water's not cold baby dip in your big toe
Maybe I'll see you in flagrante delicto
Grass below you, sky above
Celebrate spring with a crazy little thing called
Fucking outside"

Aribeth turned pink and squeaked at Fred, "You ... what do you think you are, a priest of Sharess?"

"I thanked him for the information," Fred sang, with a wink at Aribeth,
"I cried a little when he flew away,
I watched an episode of The People's Court
And I tried to plan my day.
I called up my old lady,
She wasn't home so I called my girl
I asked her if she'd like to join me as I
Entertain the world."

"This is getting interesting," Ulf rumbled, leaning forward to listen.

Angus stuck his head out the door of the tent and looked around, his nose wrinkled at the smell of coffee.

"And I said," Fred continued, grinning wickedly as he noticed Angus,
"Ooh ooh child, I'll bring a blanket and I promise I will brush the ants off,
Ooh ooh child, you're gonna like it when we're taking each other's pants off

Aribeth shook her head, her blush deepening, and whispered to Lada, "Is this why you ran and hid?"

"Uh-huh!" Lada squeaked, nodding her head frantically. "Uh-huh!"

"Cause it's the First of May, First of May," Fred continued,
"Outdoor fucking starts today,
So bring your favorite lady
Or at least your favorite lay
The water's not cold baby dip in your big toe
Maybe I'll see you in flagrante delicto
Grass below you, sky above
Celebrate spring with a crazy little thing called
Fucking outside"

"This is a lot better than most spring songs I've heard," Ulf rumbled. "I'm going to have to get him to teach me this one."

"So we went to the park together," Fred continued,
We were walking in the midday sun
We met all kinds of people and we
We fucked everyone
We fucked a lady who sells ice cream
We fucked a man with a tan Shar Pei
Everyone who needed fucking well they
They got fucked today"

Angus' face went rapidly from pink to deep red, while his mouth moved as if he wanted to say something, but was unable to get the words out. He finally gave up and retreated back into the tent.

"So come on," Fred sang, extending a hand toward Aribeth and Lada,
"Ooh ooh child, open your mind and your heart, feel the spirit moving through you
Ooh ooh child, you'll feel the warmth of the love when I stick it to you

Aribeth scooped up Lada and stepped forward, taking Fred's hand.

"Cause it's the First of May, First of May," Fred continued,
"Outdoor fucking starts today,
So bring your favorite lady
Or at least your favorite lay
The water's not cold baby dip in your big toe
Maybe I'll see you in flagrante delicto
Grass below you, sky above
Celebrate spring with a crazy little thing called
Fucking outside"

Fred wrapped his arms around Aribeth and smiled, teasingly asking, "Think she's going to implode yet, love?"

Aribeth giggled and poked Fred with her free hand, just before cuddling against him, with Lada trapped in the middle. "You almost had me imploding!"

"Hmm," Ulf rumbled softly. "I'll ask him about it after they're done. Better drag Angus out to fix them breakfast, at least, since they're going to be busy for a while."

"Will you fix my coffee before it gets cold?" Lada whimpered, still hiding her face under her paws.

"Of course," Fred said, then kissed Aribeth and rubbed Lada's tummy before letting go and heading to the fire to pick up their mugs. "Now, let's find that blanket I laid out earlier, shall we?"

Aribeth belongs to Bioware, Inc. Well, at least until she finds a way to get here from Toril and kick their lawyers' collective tuchises for claiming ownership of her.

Ulf, Angus, Freki, Sharp-Eye, Reepo, and Fred are mine, all mine! MWAhahahahahaha!

Lada is Lada's, and I wouldn't dream of trying to claim ownership of ... oh, wait, I already do. Nevermind.

First of May (the song) belongs to Jonathan Coulton, and can be found at his website, Go. Listen. Be amazed at his musical genius.