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We sat quiet for a while. Arky calmed down some, recovered his composure, dried his eyes, blew his nose.

I could tell Flair,” he said, “About the humans, I mean. You know he’d get into it. And then, we could—“

Well, sure he’d like it. He’s taken everything else I’ve thrown at him. But would he be able to keep quiet about it?”

He wouldn’t have to! We don’t have to tell him you’ve been importing humans from… wherever it is you get them from… just that you’ve got a thing for them. It’d fit neat with that fib of yours about the gorillas, and he’ll be able to lord it over them shaven human-wannabes who hang out at the mall.”

I tried to suppress a bad memory.

But… what about Toby?” I said.

Who?”

The… imported human.”

Arky made an exasperated grunt and stormed into the kitchen. I didn’t follow him; I knew him well enough by then to know when he needs time to himself. So I went and put my sweats on while he made angry sandwiches. I lay on the couch, staring at the ceiling and thinking. I was torn between wanting not to hurt my best friend on the one paw, and the feeling that I might be—I didn’t want to think it—settling for less on the other paw. I half felt like turning to stone for a year to avoid the problem. No, that wouldn’t help. Maybe a big tattoo of shame dyed across my forehead. “BAD TIGER.” I was trying to figure out what typeface best conveyed horrible shame when Arky came back out.