This story takes place between Concession #373 and #374 – after the comic ends, but before the preview of the future.
I must admit I have never snuck into a wedding before. Frat house parties, sure. No challenge there. Secret business meetings, yes, on rare occasions. Shitty music at those things. Once, I snuck into a bar mitzvah, which was shockingly difficult.
The main difference is that in almost all cases of me sneaking into a group setting, I am a relative unknown. Artie’s wedding, however, was different – these were my friends. They could practically recognize me by smell; and Artie was on the look out for me.
It was cute, in a way. Artie literally gave the ushers photos of me to make sure they didn’t accidentally let me in. Of course, Rick was one of the ushers, so one has to question the breadth of Artie’s planning. Still, Rick or not, I couldn’t just walk in, so I decided to go with a disguise.
It is important to note, at this point, that I had decided to do this alone. Matt was not invited, and although he was actually quite hurt by it, I caught him on the telephone with Artie and he seemed to understand. You can’t invite the… I guess I’ll use the phrase “domestic partner”… of someone who you’ve banned from your wedding.
Getting a disguise for Matt would not have been difficult; he and I had gone out in disguise before, and I’m quite good at it now. However, I have only had him with me in situations where the goal was mere fun and tomfoolery. This situation required a lot more care – Matt, despite his best intentions, was certainly not the best actor, and secrets will slip with someone like him. Ergo, this was to be a solo mission.
You all may know my Julia disguise already. It is essentially a female persona I put on, to make sure my disguise is as visually far away from my original look as I can get while still looking realistic and natural (which prevents most false species changes). Superficially, it is a simple costume – hair extensions, dyed-white fur, glasses or colored contacts, and a good female outfit. In practice, of course, this is quite a time-consuming affair to produce effectively.
Fur dying technology is a lot more advanced in this canon than it is in your human canon. The chemicals exist to dye black fur a perfect and realistic white without bleaching it, and it lasts quite a while until you wash it out with the solvent. The problem is, as you are no doubt aware, I am covered head-to-tail in black fur, so getting every patch of fur takes possibly an entire day of work if I don’t really rush it. It helps me to get in character to dye every inch of my fur, so even the parts most people never see get turned a nice bright white.
Hair extensions, though a lot simpler in design, are hard to do by yourself. Commonly I would have Matt do this for me – before that, I would ask my mother if I was really in a bind. Christ, she really adored the excuse to call me “Julia”, and would always be disappointed when I finally looked like my normal self.
The friendship between Zoë and I is rocky at best. It is certainly a moody relationship. He’s a combative person, and this used to amuse me, but moving in with Matt has really mellowed me out in a lot of ways, and getting caught cheating on Matt with Zoë years ago made me associate quite a sour taste with the bilby. At the time of this wedding, we were on good terms, but it still gave me pause to conciser asking a favor of him. It occurred to me, eventually, that having him as another “in” for the wedding would be of benefit, so I bit the bullet and spent the afternoon at his house, letting him apply the plugs to the fur of my head, talking endlessly about the inane as he is prone, swears mixed with his words like exotic punctuation. Foul mouthed or not, he did a good job, as it’s something he has plenty of experience in, as I had learned long ago.
The outfit was the easy part. This was a wedding, so a suit – which is the preferred look for Julia chase – fit in quite well. Wearing a suit allows for slight foam padding to be worn around the hips to give the illusion of a womanly frame. The breasts are easy, and I must again thank Zoë for this. There exists a small company in Florida that custom makes breast simulacrum for furries, and are able to match your fur color. They attach using very thin wire and some sort of weak adhesive so that, even when you’re naked, the breasts appear natural, and some light groping seems convincing at first.
Zoë, Matt, and my mother were the only people to know I was in disguise as I left the house, and my mother only caught me because she was up extra early for some ungodly reason. She sure was excited to see Julia again and asked her to come over more often.
I had to leave Matt in the dark about this, partially. All he knew was that I was in disguise for a secret mission – and, he had me promise, the secret mission was not getting laid (although I would not have complained if that’s how this wedding crash ended) – and he didn’t seem to make the connection between this and the date of Artie’s wedding.
I’m not really sure why Artie invited Zoë, as, to my knowledge, they hadn’t ever really hung out. He had hung out with Clive a lot at work, so his invitation made sense, and Clarissa wasn’t invited, so he wasn’t just inviting everyone he knew. Whatever the reason, it helped me essentially walk in. Rick seemed dubious that my name was on the invitation list – he had heard the name “Julia Chase” before, but I’ve kept him in the dark about her exact identity and connection to me. Zoë covered for me, though, with a sort of, “nah, I totally know her,” thing. Say what you will about Zoë’s social tact and grace, but he was 100% in character when it came to treating me like non-Joel, acting like an old friend as he brought me into the wedding before letting me go to my own devices.
A week of planning and preparation, lots of sneaking around, and maybe a girlish giggle or two (I really get into character), and I was in. I had crashed Artimus Crowley’s wedding. Surrounding me were his friends and extended family – damn, he’s got a huge family – and the shockingly ordinary, white-wedding decorations. There was food and some alcohol. Light music was playing.
What a bore. Why had I wanted this so badly?
For the first time in a long time, I felt genuinely foolish, standing in my ex-friend’s wedding in those black heels, fur dyed and shaved to look neater, panties riding up. What had I expected to find or accomplish? Maybe Matt’s slow encouragement and brainwashing had actually worked – maybe spite was not the thrill it once was.
I got myself a drink and looked around the room. From what I recalled, Millicent had been part of the Church of Lilith when I knew her years ago. Artie had been atheist when I met him, but his time spent with Melusine had apparently made him some sort of obscure spiritual religion from what I heard. So, I’m not quite sure what their collective religion was at this time. This certainly wasn’t a church or temple of any sort, I knew that much. They had apparently rented out some sort of indoor park somewhere down town on the floor of some office building. Wanted to get married while standing on grass, I guess. Damn hippies.
The endless rambling I was treated to as Zoë helped me with my hair did serve as a sort of debriefing for the wedding when I could be bothered to listen. This was to be a more casual wedding, with a sort of pre-game party in the main area before the big event, at which point everyone would stand around as Millicent and Artie bragged about how in love they were. All things considered, I approved of this method. It’s a much more laid-back affair, and you could be at least partially buzzed before the proper wedding began. At least, you could if you were invited.
Well, I was there, and I could tell by the laughable splash of alcohol in my drink that I was not getting drunk any time soon, so I figured it was best to mingle, put my acting skills to the test once more and introduce some of Artie’s family to Julia Chase.
I did not have the pleasure of meeting Artie’s parents, who had been dead for quite some time now. Artie’s grandmother, with whom he had lived when we were friends, was very much “up there” in terms of years, and it seemed her mind had started to slip lately, so I felt it behooved me not to meet the woman. Besides, I felt like any conversation I had with a guest, disingenuous by virtue of my disguise and presence, stood only as an insult and affront to everyone’s honor, and apathetic as I may have been to most people’s honor, the old woman was talking about her days of sleeping with rock stars in her youth, so she certainly had a lot going for her in my favor.
Eventually I found one of Artie’s cousins who I had met briefly years before, obviously not in disguise. He was already drunk off the meager offerings from the wedding’s open bar, which was either a testament to his dedication or a sign of a weak constitution. Either way, he served as an amusing distraction, and was about to regale some sort of inclination towards his cousin’s squirrel fiance before he suddenly took a fright, staring behind me. Frowning, I turned around and found myself looking straight into the eyes of Artie.
The white mouse stood before me. Christ. Did he know who I really was? What had tipped him off? He stood before me in his white suit and pink tie, hair tied loosely back behind his head. Adorning his chin was the tamed scruff of a white beard, and his eyes casually gazed over ornate glasses. God, he looked damn hot today.
His mouth was curled into a slight smile. I could not decipher how earnest it was. “Julia, was it?” His hand extended, and I shook it, keeping my grip gentle. “I don’t believe we’ve met.”
I smiled – a purposefully fake smile, trying to look like I was acting insulted. Playful. “Clearly you don’t remember joining Millicent on that company trip. To Miami? I met you two in the hotel.”
“Ah, yes, right…” Artie adjusted his tie as he pretended to remember me. “Well, it’s good to see you again. I’m sorry we haven’t spoken for so long.”
“Oh, hon, don’t worry about it.” I wagged my tail a little. “Milli’s kept me updated on you two.”
Artie put his hands in his pockets and adjusted his weight a little, very briefly looking down. Thinking? He looked up and, with the hint of a mysterious smile, asked, “How’s Jamie?”
Jamie? Who the fuck is that? “He’s great! He just started Middle School.” The lie just sort of slithered out. “It’s hard for him, but he’ll be all right.”
Artie nodded slowly. Did he buy the lie that he himself brought up? “That’s good. He was such a lil’ guy when I saw him last. You don’t have a picture with you, do you?”
What the hell was he doing? “I don’t, actually. I just got a new phone, so I don’t have any pictures with me.”
Artie nodded again, a sort of half-nod. “That’s a shame.” He raised a hand to brush from his face a few stray strands of his long white hair. “Well, I won’t keep you. I have this wedding to get to.”
I shook his hand again. “Congratulations, by the way. It was good to see you again.”
He nodded and turned around, but over his shoulder he said to me, “Say hello to Lorelei for me.”
It took every ounce of energy I had not to portray the level of shock that overtook me. He knew exactly who I was the whole time. Who told him? Did he figure it out on his own? Was my disguise that easy to unveil?
The sound of feedback resounded over speakers set up around the room, followed by the warbling sound of a pipe organ. The ceremony was set to start, and the ushers split the crowd in half to make an aisle down the middle of the grassy room. Artie, looking certainly calmer than I would expect someone about to get married to look, stood in front of the wooden altar. Father Tim, the raccoon starting to show the subtle signs of an aging fur, stood behind the mouse.
I won’t bore you with the details of the ceremony, because I certainly was not interested. I will bore you with the details of Millicent’s dress, though. She kept in great shape those days, and the thin white lace clung very dearly to her every curve. I guess those two weren’t into veils, so her head went bare, her long blond hair – slightly curled at the end, maybe done just for this occasion – left to fall upon her shoulders, which were left exposed by her dress. Her bare paws played delicately across the grass as she pulled the… what’s the tail of a wedding dress called? That long thing that drags against the ground… well, she had one of those. There was a lacy garter near the base of her tail, the fur of which was extra shiny and fluffed up today. Hot.
As they were saying their sappy non-denominational vows, I slowly migrated to the far side of the crowd, far away from the site of the newly-weds and their priest. Before I knew it, Zoë was beside me. We shared a silent look and watched the ceremony come to a close.