[Image 1, text reads: “You kids should value your youth while you have it, it might be gone sooner than you might expect.” “Frogo, shut up. I spent most of last year stuck as an armless tadpole, being young sucks.”]

Poppy could already hear the familiar sounds of Funzie Frogo playing from down the hall, and she was completely unsurprised to find Boris watching an episode she knew he’d already seen a dozen times. It was the one where Frogo’s friend Sir Hambo fights ‘This big guy, like, the biggest guy, with a bad glove,’ as Lily had once described it to her.

[Image 2 text reads: “Tina, come on, I’m trying to impart a life lesson.” “Why?”]

“Hey there, Bor-bor.” she teased.

“Well, that was fast,” Boris mumbled, not even turning to look. “Did you clear things up with the bounty office?”

“No, no, I had another thing to take care of, I won’t be long. I don’t have a bounty on my head anyway.” Poppy coughed. “For once.” In the years since she’d fled Trance, Poppy had grown accustomed to breaking the hands of cocky upstarts with shiny new licenses trying to take her in for what they thought would be easy opossum bounty money. She always knew it was time to pack up the house and move whenever a seasoned vet came sniffing around, but she put so many greenhorns in traction that she’d earned an unflattering nickname in every hunting community on the Bourbon coast. Really, it was refreshing for a threat on her life to be illegal for a change.

“So what was that about a hit, then?” Boris said, finishing his drink. He didn’t seem to be too concerned for her safety, probably because he knew firsthand how durable she was.

“It’s… complicated and inconvenient to talk about. You know, work stuff.” Poppy chose her words carefully, wanting to stay off the topic of Kit and the Prime Minister as much as possible. “What have you been so grumpy about?”

“Oh, nothing important,” he said in the tone of a man who obviously considered the matter to be extremely important. “I just caught the Seven Skies premiere and I guess I’m pretty bummed about it.”

Seven- Oh, that cartoon with the pirates. I thought you’d be glad they brought it back.”

“Yeah, they brought it back,” he sulked. “As a miniseries with a new writing team! It’s not fair, Captain Clatterjaw finally revealed himself at the end of the original series, but they’re treating him like some cheesy kid’s villain instead of the criminal powerhouse he was built up to be!” It was clear this was stressing him out quite a lot, as his body mass had been slowly deflating the more worked up he got. Poppy almost admired that Boris could afford to get so worked up over something so quaint in the face of what she was dealing with.

“Look. Boris.” She placed a hand on his shoulder. “We’re ALL dealing with jarring changes right now. Sure, it’s a big pain, but sometimes you have to make a compromise if you want something important to you to continue. And hey, there’s some advantages. If it wasn’t for format changes, this entire scene would’ve been cut for time, and you’d have only shown up for one panel as a plot device.”

“…Poppy, why are you here?”

“I need to ask a really big favor. See, my friend Harley is in a really bad spot right now. I don’t think it’s safe for her to staying at home by herself for the next few days, so I was thinking-”

“You were thinking she should stay in one of our guest rooms,” he interrupted, continuing to stare at the screen ahead of him.

“Yes! Exactly! Would that be okay with you?”

“That depends,” Boris turned down the volume slightly. “What kind of trouble are we talking about?”

“Er…” Poppy looked to Harley, who could offer nothing besides an anxious shrug and shake of the head as she backed herself as far into the corner as possible.

“This wouldn’t happen to be related to whatever dangerous ‘work stuff’ you’re going through now, would it?” he finally turned toward her, his brows furrowing in concern. “Because if this is a witness protection thing, you should be taking that to the cops.” Poppy winced at the suggestion.

“Boris.” She paused, trying to phrase her statement delicately. “I understand that you’re… used to living with a certain sense of security. But you have to understand, the police are not here to protect opossums just because new laws say they have to. They’ve already failed this girl once, and I can’t trust them with something like this. Please, you don’t have to do anything crazy for me, but I need someone to make sure she’s in a safe place. Just for three days, tops.”

“Poppy, come on…” Boris put a hoof to his temple. “You know I don’t mind looking after Lily any time I’m free, but this is some heavy stuff you’re dropping in my lap. If this is such a big deal that the cops can’t take care of it, then I’m not sure I can handle that. Plus, I got people I care about here, I can’t just put them in harm’s way.” Poppy knew she was losing him more and more as his confidence dwindled. He had always been reliable, but he was only as strong as his ego, and she needed Boris Glorius to be mighty enough to deter any goon who was stupid enough to even think about assaulting the toughest, most high-profile fighter in the city. She needed a different tactic, something that would appeal to Boris’ prouder side. Something like…

[Image 3, text reads: “A true knight can never ignore the plight of the weak and downtrodden.”]

“Hey, sorry to change gears all of a sudden, but who’s that cool pig guy?” Poppy asked, feigning ignorance.

“That cool pig guy?” Boris’ face lit up, and Poppy could already see his chest puffing out, sensing an opportunity to gush. “What, are you for real? That’s Sir Hambo! He’s like, the only good thing that came out of Season 3 of FunFro!”

“Hm, really? What’s so great about him?” she egged on.

[Image 4: text reads:  “Oh man, ‘what’s so great’, she asks. Where to even start with this? Okay, so in Season 3, since Frogo’s dad sealed away the Salamander King, a bunch of new bad dudes from other nations start showing up in Phibeos to throw their weight around. One of them is Duke Glut-Ton from the land of mammals, and he brings along Sir Hambo and his friend, Sir Lambo, as his loyal knights. Now, obviously the duke is this huge scumbag, but Hambo and Lambo are big into the ‘my kingdom, right or wrong’ thing, so they have no choice but to follow his orders. So for the first part of the season, they’re bad guys and they butt heads with Ribbitina a bunch. Frogo’s not much help because he’s stuck as a tadpole this season, don’t ask, it was REALLY stupid. Anyway, at one point, the duke tells his knights to raze this totally innocent village to find some magic staff that never really comes up again, but Sir Lambo declines because that’s messed up, and the duke stabs him in the back for it. Hambo is exiled by his remaining guards, and he’s totally heartbroken because he lost his best friend, so he finally joins up with Frogo and Ribbitina to take Duke Glut-Ton down. After that, he becomes a sort of recurring character who goes around defending the weak, and bowing to no one but the whims of Justice and Compassion and he gets this super rad theme song-” ( Poppy had stopped paying attention somewhere around the words “Salamander King.”)]