“Hey, Ratty!” The possum turned to the sliding glass door, her heart thrumming from the potent sativa. “We’re doing that rope demo now, if you still wanted to volunteer.”  

They had never met before tonight. Cocky as she was, the possum had made fun of the heavy beams that trussed the hyena’s living-room ceiling. She had pushed further into ‘prove it’ territory as they described what the beams were used for, and now was… well… essentially backed into a corner.

“Yeah, of course.” She tilted her head to look through the glass, saw a few folding chairs (some occupied) set up in a ring around a set of four thick ropes hanging from the beams, and snuffed out what was left of her joint. The hyena, whose name had completely slipped from Ratty’s mind, offered a hand.

Something hypnotic about it, or maybe she was just really high. Hard to tell. She set her own soft paw in the rough fur embrace and gave up a quick grin as the claws closed around her hand. The hyena pulled her back into the living room, turning sideways and onto their toes in order to scoot into the center of the chair ring. There was enough space there to separate the spectators from the participants, and a small black crate to prop her up.

“Alright, Ratty,” they began, “Step up here and take your shorts off.”

She did the first, and hesitated on the second. 

“Is that necessary?”

“Mmhm.” The hyena set their hand on the inside of her thigh, creeping up towards her pelvis before…

“Aah!” ...aggressively grabbing the point where her leg joined her crotch. “Fuck, dude…” she complained as the dull ache faded from her muscle.

“There’s a point here that I need uncovered.” They continued, unimpeded. Ratty took a second to examine each of the faces in the circle. A few uninterested on their phones, one or two groups having quiet conversations while watching, Fern behind her watching intently.

“Fine,” she nodded, “yeah. Sure.” She undid the top button, tight enough around her waist to put a strain on her thumb. As sexy as she found possible, in an attempt to regain some kind of control, she slid the shorts down over her legs, dropped them at the bottom, and stepped her boots out of them.

“Boots on?”

“Yeah.” The possum said, kicking the shorts onto the floor. She had become immediately aware of just how utilitarian her underwear were: black (of course), made out of a ribbed stretchy material that kept her bits more or less contained.

“They’re gonna be heavy.”

“Okay.” she left the ‘and?’ implied.

“And your jacket?” The hyena tugged and the ends of her sleeves. That was more of a problem. The 300 or so zinc spikes scattered across her shoulders added a significant weight to her entire body. 

“Yeah, of course— Fern, can you—” The loyal borzoi had already stood up and put their hands out to collect the folded fabric. They gave a quiet, teasing howl as they backed back into their seat. “Okay, shut up with that.”

“Hey.” The hyena’s voice caught her attention, an uncharacteristic note of softness turning Ratty back around. “We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.” There was still a challenge there, but the kind that only they would be allowed to tease her for if she declined.

“I said I’m gonna do it,” The possum swatted at their hand, “and I’m going to do it.”

“Alright.” The ringmaster’s confidence elicited a few sarcastic ‘woo’s from the crowd. They dropped to their knees, dragging the first rope around her ankle a few times, the burrs just long enough to slip past her layer of fur and tickle the skin underneath.

“Wait, wait, hold on.” A possum in one of the chairs shushed their conversation as they stood and escaped the ring. Ratty’s eyes followed him back into the kitchen and out of sight. She looked down to see the ringmaster, also confused, hands frozen mid-way through the first tie. They shrugged and got back to work.

Ratty shifted her weight as the first loop clamped down on her ankle, a dull ache making her sweaty toes go cold under the heavy boots.

“Too tight?”

“A little.” And it was loosened. The next ankle went entirely uneventfully, and then it was time for the harness.

“You sure about leaving this on?” The ringmaster fingered the edge of her hoodie, too short not to ride up but too long to be called a crop-top.

“Yeah I’m uh, not wearing a bra.” They cocked an eyebrow, “I mean I was! I— my asthma got bad. I took it off. It’s in my purse.”

“Hey, you don’t have to explain to me. How’re you uh...” They poked around where they estimated her nipple to be, missing by a long shot. “...keeping those down?”

“Electrical tape.”

“No shit?” The hyena asked. Ratty nodded. “Shit, that’s hot.”

“Alright, move on.”

They nodded, their claws skirting around the possum’s back with another length of rope. It went around her chest and arms four times above her breasts, the sensation of which was dampened entirely by her thick sweater, before being pulled taut. Then another below her breasts, effectively pinning her arms to her side with only her elbows for movement. 

Then a few under the arms, pinning them both together.

“This is pretty involved, huh?” Ratty tried to make small talk as she heard two clicks at her back.

“Oh, yeah. It’s a whole thing.” She stared down at the hyena’s hands as they poked out between her ankles, fixing another pair of clips around her legs. “The great thing is, though… once it’s all set up…”

Ratty’s stomach dropped as her left leg was pulled out from under her. She fell back into the harness, her breathing going from the regular struggle to an all-encompassing effort as only the toe of her right boot stayed grounded to the crate.

“Holy fuck—” The possum’s brain seemed to slosh in her head as she became used to being weightless, a few scattered claps and the sound of a metal chair sliding around behind her brought her back to reality.

“Too tight?”

“No—” in… out… in… out… “No, it’s just heavy.” she tried to bury her face in her sweater as she realized the reality of her situation. Completely spread open, her underwear working overtime to cover her penis. “I’m— I’m good.” she panted.

“Alright.” The ringmaster grinned up at her, the sharp angles of their maw giving some quiet comfort. “Alright! Let’s hear another round for Ratty!” They turned to stir up the crowd, a few more impassioned whoops and something that might actually be called a round of applause to reward her performance.

“Thank you.” She muttered, muffled, into the folds of her hoodie. She felt — as she settled in — the cool air chilling her back from the top of her panties to the pathetic degree at which the elastic of her sweater had elected to ride up.

“Are you gonna stand on that crate the whole time?” The hyena tapped against it with their toe, shifting the possum’s balance entirely with each millimeter. 

“I-” She strained to lift her other leg, a little more panicked each time she found it tilting a different way. “Heavy…” she muttered, by way of explanation.

“Well, here.” The hyena wound up and kicked the box, sending it completely across the room and eliciting another drop from the possum’s stomach. She whined as the ropes tightened around her, aware the entire time that the fabric of her hoodie, while thick, was nowhere near thick enough to stop that. 

One last yank on her right leg, and she was more on her back than standing. The ropes opened up then, creating a hammock through which her chest could finally expand, and she settled, gulping down air. She stared up, now, at the beams, the weight of her head forcing her chin out of her hoodie. She swung gently as she got comfortable, hyper-aware of the immature and very-stoned way her tail swished back and forth in the air below.

“Good girl.” The hyena had retreated long enough to retrieve their box, and now stood staring down into the suspended possum’s eyes. Ratty watched, utterly enamoured, as the edge of a giggle tried to poke its way onto their expression.

There was— someone said “I found it” and the room was flooded with black light. A few oohs as the possum’s fur lit up under the UV. 

“I didn’t know you could do that…”

“It’s for— animal possums need to see each other at night.” She muttered, lazily. Someone else had stood up from their seat and had put their hands down the edge of the possum’s boots. They unzipped and fell with a pair of thuds.

“Who’s the… foot freak?” She struggled and failed to raise her chin far enough to look down her body. 

Someone, probably Fern, replied with a teasing “You are!”

“Fair.” She murmured, letting her head drop again and taking in just how many hands had suddenly appeared on her. Only the hyena’s claws stood out, tugging at the taught fabric of her hoodie, pulling it up far enough to expose the electrical tape underneath.

“Hey, wait—” then came the underwear, pulled lazily to one side as though it had done anything to conceal the soft erection below. The ringmaster’s hands stopped as the rest of the possum’s hoodie became scrunched under the top rope, and they stepped back to admire their work.

“Comfy?” They asked. The possum nodded. “Good. I’m gonna go grab a smoke. I’ll see you in a half hour.”

With that, they left Ratty alone, a gently spinning ornament at the center of a shitty house party.

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