"Hi! I'm Kylie. I'm 31 years old, and a zoologist specializing in saving endangered species." she smiled. Her mother had paid a lot for that smile, when she was a teenager, and had never let her forget.
The lump across the table wore a salmon tie on shirt the yellow of a dead canary, the threadcount not high enough to hide the dark v-neck underneath, with a grey striped blazer and black trousers, brown leather slip-in shoes completing an ensemble that no loving parent with working color vision would have let their child out of the house in.
"Kylie. I'm Mark." He was a tenor with a voice pitched so low she had to lean forward to make out his words. "Graduate student at NYU. Business Management." He leaned in close. "Kylie, have you ever worked in porn?"
Kylie flashed back to a sweaty morning in China, the sunlight breaking through the bamboo as the pandas she'd come here to shoot finally finished the preliminaries and began their great furry humping. It was a grant project, the digital recording to be spliced, edited, and shown in zoos so the big, lovable furry lumps could figure out which end was up when it was their time to perpetuate the species.
"Never in front of the camera." Kylie said, the half-life coming out smoothly before her brain worked out what he was getting at. Mark was halfway through his pitch when the buzzer sounded, and left his business card on the table as the next one wandered over.
Her smile came back on, automatic pilot. "Hi! I'm Kylie..."
The bugbear that sat down across from her had shaved today, and his clothes were clean, even if he had never progressed past "everything matches if you wear black." The glasses were thick, rape-prevention plastic rims, which with the buzzcut screamed military - either shortly after basic or just got out, maybe ROTC. He looked at her with worrying intensity, and caught the whiff of Old Spice - probably trying to smell like his dad had; she wondered if he used the little brush to apply the foam when shaving. A little plastic nametag announced him as a Ricardo.
"Saving endangered species" he said, rolling the idea around his head, having forgotten to introduce himself. "How do you do that?"
Behind her smile, Kylie flashed back to collecting sperm samples from an African elephant - a virile but gentle male that could have stomped her flat, and which had decided in his old age that he preferred to try and bugger the other male elephants. It had been a long and exhausting day, but a good workout for upper body strength.
"I generally work with fertility issues; I've done quite a bit of field work..."
Ricardo said nothing, and trying to get him to talk about himself elicited three-word answers. The buzzer didn't come soon enough.
Number three had the slightly desperate whiff of the engineer about him, all shaved head and slight gut, glasses and grey polo shirt over black jeans. Still, he seemed normal enough, and had a nice smile.
"Desmond," he said, offering his hand. She took it politely, her callouses rubbing against his soft palms. "I'm a werewolf." He paused. "I like to get that out of the way ahead of time. It's not the kind of thing you like to find out after you get to know a person, you know?"
Kylie digested this. "Any particular species?"
It was Desmond's turn to be confused. "What?"
"Wolves. Canis lupis. There are multiple subspecies, not counting things like the Tiger Wolf or Tasmanian Wolf which aren't really a wolves, even though they're called that."
"Oh. Uh. Just, common wolves, I guess? Here, I have a picture."
Desmond pulled out an iPhone, fiddled through three clicks, and showed her a picture of him in a full-body fur suit, blue coat with a white belly, a head that looked like a husky but with eyes like a cartoon character on top. There was an anatomically correct - if far too large - silicone canine dick located at groin-level, knot and all.
"Have you, uh, done any furplay?"
Kylie remembered her graduate thesis. Head-to-toe in lizard drag, she crept up on all fours to a female komodo dragon. Female komodos can reproduce through parthenogenesis, and her theory was that pseudo-copulation would stimulate the process - unfortunately, they couldn't get another female komodo, and the one they had didn't respond well to the puppets. So Kylie had slinked up and gently dry-humped giant lizard.
Six of the eggs have hatched.
The buzzer sounded while Kylie was still formulating an answer, and Pavlovian instinct forced a smile.
A young woman smiled back at her. She was in drag, or maybe transitioning - brown striped trousers and vest over a decent, long-sleeved white shirt, hair cropped short, no breasts to speak of unless they were wrapped down, but the lack of an Adam's apple was a dead giveaway.
"Hi, I'm Sam. I'm twenty-eight, and I'm a cat breeder and vet tech."
Kylie's smile widened and relaxed into a more natural grin. "Hi Sam, I'm Kylie. It's funny you should mention that, I'm into breeding myself..."
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