Daniel, Isaac, No Stress

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“Hey, did you see this?” Isaac asked, showing Daniel his phone as they walked through a wooded park together.

“Your phone? Yeah, a few times,” Daniel teased, but he took it and looked at it. “Oh wow. How does that happen?” A bunch of animals had escaped from some zoo. They were still tracking them down, and were warning the public to stay away from any animals they saw, but not giving a list of what animals had escaped.

“Don’t know. I’ve heard that place is a bit shit to its animals,” Isaac said, taking his phone back. “Maybe some people let the animals out.”

“Not cool,” Daniel decided, hand in his pocket. His phone buzzed, so he took it out. “You can’t just let something out of captivity and release it into an environment that’s not safe for it. These aren’t lobsters being let out on a beach, they’re fucking tigers and…motherfucking wolves.”

Simon had texted their group a picture of his girlfriend’s front yard with two wolves just sitting next to her dads’ car. “Oh my God, they’re so cute,” Isaac said, peering at Daniel’s phone. “I’m so jealous, let’s go visit them.”

“No,” Daniel muttered, rapidly texting to tell Simon to go inside and fucking call animal control. “They’re going to fucking eat Simon, dammit.”

“No they won’t. Just tell him to let them have space and not startle them. They’re just chilling, so they’re probably not interested in a fight. Ana’s family should tell the neighbours to keep their dogs inside too and anyone walking by should stick to the other side of the street. Letitia and Waggy will be okay until the paw patrol gets there.”

Daniel gave Isaac a look, but he seemed serious, so he texted that word for word to Simon, mildly annoyed when his autocorrect capitalized “paw patrol” for him. “Why do you know their names?”

Isaac held up his phone. “The zoo’s site has profiles of all its wolves. They have a full dozen. It’s hard to say if they’ll all be in the same area or if they’re spread out. I hope we get to meet one of the others, Digby is a cutie…”

“Isaac,” Daniel said, putting a hand on his arm to stop him walking. The bushes ahead of them were moving.

Isaac smiled at the bushes. “Hey there,” he said, holding out a hand. “Come on out?”

“We don’t want it to come out, what if it’s a polar bear or something?” Daniel asked, reaching for his knife.

“I’m sure it’s not a polar bear.”

Isaac was always so sure everything would be okay. It was one of the reasons Daniel liked hanging out with him. He was easy to be around. But he was also about to get mauled by a polar bear. So Daniel stepped in front of him and peered into the bush before he could. “Oh.”

There was a huge rat or beaver or something in the bush looking up at him with black eyes. It didn’t have fangs or claws or anything. Daniel looked down at it, and it just looked back up at him, then looked down at the ground and started looking for food.

“Not a polar bear?” Isaac asked, coming over. He didn’t sound mocking, which was a skill Isaac had that Daniel didn’t.

“No, it’s like a beaver or something?”

Isaac looked into the bush. “Oh, it’s a capybara.”

“A what?”

Isaac snickered, stepping around the bush to crouch beside the capybara. “It’s like a kind of South American rodent? They’re like guinea pigs.”

Daniel followed him, watching Isaac touch the capybara and deciding that Isaac knew better than anyone not to touch a weird animal, so it was his own fault if his hand got poisoned off. “That thing is like ten times the size of a guinea pig.”

“Sure,” said Isaac. “It’s ten times as friendly, too. There are probably some more around…oh, there.” He was looking off to his left, and there were two more capybaras just kind of…hanging out near a small pond.

Daniel looked at them warily, but took his hand away from his knife. They didn’t seem dangerous. He sat next to Isaac, mostly because Theodore would ‘tsk’ at the stain on his pants. “I’ll call animal control.”

“No, don’t,” Isaac said. “They’re fine, they’re just vibing.”

Daniel rolled his eyes. “They’re native to South America. They can’t live in a Canadian forest.”

“Sure. But they can hang out here for an hour while the paw patrol picks up the apex predators roaming around a population centre,” Isaac said. “Besides, the zoo they escaped from is shit. I know a guy who runs an aquarium. I bet they’ll take these guys in and treat them well.”

Isaac was talking about Denver’s aquarium, but of course he knew he shouldn’t say that to Daniel. Daniel sighed. “I guess. So what do capybaras do?”

Isaac shrugged. “They hang out in water and eat plants?”

That wasn’t what Daniel had meant. “I mean like, how do they defend themselves? Do they live in herds? Do they stampede? Do they make dams?”

“They’re just friendly,” Isaac insisted. “They’re not aggressive or anything. Come on, pet him.”

“I’m not petting a wild animal.”

“You’ll feel better.”

“I feel fine,” Daniel insisted.

“Liar. You’re the most stressed person I know, even when you’re not upset.” Isaac nudged him. “Come on, trust me.”

Daniel sighed, wishing he could just not trust Isaac. But he didn’t not trust him, so he petted the capybara. It just kept standing there looking for roots or whatever. The forest was quiet.

It was kind of nice, Daniel admitted. To himself. He even let Isaac take a few pictures of them with the capybaras. When he looked at them later, he was surprised by how calm he seemed.

It really was a good time.



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