The Woodjin: The Business Trip by Lbilover

For the Daily Prompt 'going on a business trip'.

When Sean goes to zip up his suitcase, he discovers a very determined gray squirrel hiding in his underwear.

"I'm sorry, Rocky," he apologizes as he lifts the squirrel up and disentangles him from a pair of boxers, "but there are laws about these things. I'm afraid squirrels aren't allowed on airplanes." Sean looks at Elijah. "Want to give it a go?"

Elijah takes Rocky and patiently explains to him that Sean is leaving the pines and getting on one of the giant silver birds they see up in the sky, and Rocky can't go with him. Rocky chatters for a while, clearly arguing the matter, but finally, sulkily, gives in, reaching up to tug hard at Elijah's hair.

"Hey, don't shoot the messenger," Elijah says. He sighs ruefully. "Believe me, Rocky, if I could hide in Sean's suitcase, I would."

"I'm tempted to let you," Sean remarks, kneeling down and reaching for the zipper again. But this time, it's a long, scrawny neck rising like a periscope from his socks, and a pair of tiny red eyes in a hook-nosed face that stop him. "Fred!" he exclaims in astonishment. "How on earth did you get in here?" He picks up the turtle, who regards him dolefully. "I sense a conspiracy going on."

Elijah giggles. "I didn't put them up to it, I swear."

"A likely story," Sean replies, but his eyes are twinkling. "Sorry, Fred, but you wouldn't enjoy it anyway. The conference hotel is definitely second-rate compared to the digs you're used to. Trump Tower, it ain't." He gently sets Fred aside and says, "If anyone else is in here, they're coming along for the ride." Then he firmly pulls the zipper closed and stands up.

"A car's heading up the drive," Elijah says, tilting his head slightly to one side. "Must be your limo, Sean."

A pall settles over the bedroom. "Why does it feel as if I'm going to be gone for months instead of four days?" Sean asks. "Shit." He looks from Elijah to Maggie to Rocky to Fred. "I'm going to miss you guys so much."

"Group hug?" suggests Elijah, and awkward as it is with the size differentials, they manage it.


The limo driver is understandably startled when his passenger answers the door with a gray squirrel perched on his shoulder and a box turtle tucked in the crook of his arm. "Uh," he begins.

"Don't worry, they aren't coming with me," Sean says. "Though they tried." He sets squirrel and turtle carefully down and says, "I'll see you in a few days. Take good care of the Woodjin for me, okay?"

If he weren't certain it was impossible, the driver would have sworn they actually replied.

As they head down the driveway a few minutes later, the man remarks, "Guess you're an animal lover, huh?"

Sean smiles involuntarily. "You could say that," he says, and his eyes are fixed on a magnificent white stag pacing them from the shadow of the pine trees.